Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Students explore new study abroad opportunities

     Valencia College has a long standing rapport from having a highly diverse student body and strong ties with several study abroad educational programs. This was on display last week as Valencia Volunteers worked with multicultural advisers and other guest speakers to inform students about more than 65 different international cultures.

     This was tied into International Eduction Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of State and U.S. Department of Education that works to prepare Americans for a global environment.

     “This is always a great gathering to inform our student about so many diverse aspects of world cultures,” said Bliss Thompson, counselor of international student services at Valencia. “Our goal for next year is to make this a college wide event.”

     This is the fifth year IEW events have been sponsored by the dean of students at West and East Campuses, with an encouragement and emphasis on informing others about lesser known or misunderstood cultural aspects from around the world. Several diverse topics were shared throughout dozens of information stations with project displays, with the general theme of international understanding and cross-boarder cooperation.

     “I’m really interested in different holidays from around the world, like the Chinese New Year,” said nursing major, Zandra Nelson. She was talking with other students and displaying her own project on international holidays.

     “It’s so good to understand the truth about other places around the world,” said international student, Taiama Ferreira. “It’s not always just what you see on television.” Ferreira hopes to study abroad in Rome and Spain when she finishes at Valencia.

     There are currently seven different study abroad short term faculty lead trips planed; India, England, Guyana, Denmark, China, Poland, and the Dominican republic. All trips give college credits and focus on studying specific courses in other countries, like in England where students will be touring British press outlets like the BBC as part of a global immersion in journalism.

     Valencia alumni, Michelle Steffenson, was speaking to student about her own travels around the world. “Research a lot to know what to expect before to travel,” said Steffenson. “That’s the best advice I can give.” Originally born in Denmark, Steffenson came to Valencia through the international exchange student program, and now shares her experience from traveling to dozens of countries.

     Truly understanding and working with other cultures is the key to international cooperation within the global community. To find more information about Valencia’s international programs, visit

By James Tutten

(All photos courtesy of Joseph Morrison / Valencia Voice)


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