Study Abroad Office strives to enhance student experience

While many Geneseo students dream of traversing oceans and traveling around the world, few have taken the flight of stairs in Erwin Hall to the Study Abroad office. This does not mean, however, that they have not been affected by the work of this office in more ways than one—it has influenced dozens of campus events and continues to evolve.

The office’s work began before the school year with summer study abroad options. This year, these have expanded to include new faculty-led summer programs in Ireland, Hong Kong, Berlin and Puerto Rico as unique destinations.

After the school year began, Study Abroad made its on-campus presence known through its participation in International Education Week, traveling to New York City in October to co-host the annual Intercultural Horizons Conference. This State University of New York-wide conference is in its fourth year with Geneseo co-hosting two of the four.

In addition, the office just concluded an 18-month examination called the American Council of Education’s Internalization Lab, which they dubbed Global Geneseo Report. The point of the examination—which was a joint decision between assistant provost for international programs Becky Lewis and interim President Carol Long—was to obtain an outside perspective in order to observe and critique Geneseo’s international program.

“The fundamental justification for doing it emerged during the process of doing it; which was that everybody’s got a different definition for ‘internationalization’ and a different concept of what that means,” Study Abroad office faculty fellow Wes Kennison said. The program’s conclusion was that while Geneseo is very strong in study abroad programs, it should work more to internationalize classroom curriculums.

The office also held smaller events such as an Ethnicity and Race Abroad panel and Study Abroad speed dating during the winter months. Study abroad advisor Emily Froome is in the process of creating a testimonial video by study abroad veterans “to address student concerns” about going abroad for the first time.

Aside from these programs and events, the Study Abroad office makes a change on an individual level on campus each year. Kennison described it as “a central hub of communication for every issue a student might bump into on a study abroad.” Thus, they work with every student that comes to them on making their study abroad dreams a reality.

“There’s very little that makes us more giddy around here than getting someone on a plane that didn’t think they could get on a plane,” Kennison said.

According to Lewis, another goal of the department is “to develop a template for every department that helps students identify the easiest semester to fit in a semester-long study abroad program.”

“The mission to educate is central to how this office chooses to operate,” study abroad assistant director Sam Cardamone said.