Study abroad program stays optimistic despite COVID restrictions

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JCCC offers a hundred options in more than fifty countries but due to COVID-19 all Study Abroad trips are canceled until further notice. Photo by Mena Haas.
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Every year, hundreds of students travel across the whole world through the Study Abroad program.  There are over 50 countries students can choose from, spanning from Morocco to China. The program offers different opportunities depending on what experience students are looking for.

“Students have option to study abroad for a month or go on faculty lead trips that are about couple weeks long,” Janette Jasperson, Coordinator for International Education, said. “Whichever trip student picks, they will come back with a life lasting experience.”

Going on these Study Abroad trips have had real benefits for the students.

“Students come back and say how much it opened their eyes, they learned new perspectives, and learned to become more independent,” Jasperson said. “It can be so easy to just live in your own bubble, but there is a whole world out there. What we try to do is expand student’s bubbles.”

Margo Dulny, a student at the college, planned to go on faculty lead trip this summer but it was cancelled because of COVID-19.

“A group of students were going to go to Mexico for the Las Pintas Project, and I was very excited,” Dulny said.  “I have lived in America all my life and was really looking forward to experience something different but unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”

Due to COVID-19, all study aboard programs were cancelled. Just like other programs, they are finding ways to stay active online.

“Our main purpose is to internationalize the college, to make sure students have a global dimension to their education,” Jasperson said. “In the past our focus has been on study aboard but since we can’t do that, we are focusing on other areas. We have created International speaker series [Explore the World]. Even though we can’t send students to the world, we are zooming in the world through campus.”

John Harty, Professor of Geology, has been going to faculty lead trips for years.

“Study Abroad is something I am passionate about; I try to help and participate as much as I can,” Harty said.

One of areas he has been participating is in the Explore the World series.

“The speakers for series can be staff and faculty that have studied abroad sharing their experience and it also includes faculty from universities across the world we partner with speak about how they are adjusting,” Harty said. “For example, we had presentation from someone in New Zealand and I also presented about my experience of going to Africa.”

Even with all the disadvantages, the program is not short of having people, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The attendance has been great. We have about 50 to 60 people on average for each meeting and people who can’t attend, watch it on YouTube,” Jasperson said.

Though the Study Abroad program has adapted well to the online switch, Jasperson is patiently waiting for the day when this is all over.

“It feels a bit different with everyone doing online work,” Jasperson said. “We are just waiting on when we can study abroad again. I can’t wait for that day. But until then, we will bring the world to JCCC.”

To watch any of the college’s Explore The World previous or upcoming virtual meetings, check out them website.

 

By Yohannas Girma

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