Study abroad fosters critical and creative thinking
Appalachian's undergraduate and graduate degree programs are preparing graduates to be critical, creative and global professionals.
National surveys indicate that high school seniors and their families expect their students to have an increased global awareness and/or competency during college, as graduates will likely encounter coworkers, clients and neighbors from different cultures in their professions. Study abroad is one way to begin building global awareness and competency, and as students explain, there's nothing quite like an overseas trip to open one's mind to new ways of learning.
Here are examples of students' international explorations during fall break 2012:
Students in Appalachian's Honors College are required to complete an international education experience either during the summer or an academic semester to gain a broader understanding of the world and diversify their learning.
The 2012 freshman class of Chancellor's Scholars, 10 students on full scholarship and members of The Honors College, took to James Joyce's Dublin for a crash course in Irish history, sports and scholarship. Accompanied by The Honors College's director, Dr. Leslie Sargent Jones, the students covered the gamut: they attended the Ireland vs. Germany World Cup qualifying match and the Maths Week festival, a competition to attract young students to mathematics; ate at Dublin's premier fish and chips purveyor; and toured St. Patrick's Cathedral, Phoenix Park and the National Museum of Ireland. The last night was spent enjoying an Irish dinner and dancing.
Twelve students from the Department of Computer Information Systems (CIS), along with associate professor Dr. Charlie Chen, explored Valencia and Barcelona, Spain. The purpose of the trip was to develop future global business leaders interested in doing business in Spain.
Students learned to use global technologies (e.g. video conferencing tools, blog, social media, media sharing and cloud-based presentation software) and developed effective strategies for intercultural communication with the focus on business and social etiquette, attitudes towards time, negotiation practices, relationship building, leadership, motivation and team building. They enjoyed summer-like weather, spending time at Costa Blanca Beach and visiting The America's Cup Port, a small city of its own, built by Valencia City especially for the 32nd America's Cup.
Interior design students from the Department of Technology and Environmental Design took an interior design field study getting a taste of London's lifestyle, museums and historic architecture, and visiting some of the city's most cutting-edge design firms. These included Steelcase, a global leader in office furnishings, Foster & Partners, one of the world's most influential architectural design firms, and Humanscale, a firm entrenched in the belief that the best designs in the world are based on purpose and function.
Coming in 2013: A plan for global learning
A five-year plan called "Global Learning: A World of Opportunities for Appalachian Students," to be implemented beginning in the 2013-14 academic year, emphasizes strengthened activities offered both at home and abroad and earlier in a student's college career.
The global learning plan developed out of Appalachian's reaffirmation of accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a process that occurs every 10 years. A relatively new requirement of the reaccreditation process is for institutions to develop a "quality enhancement plan," or QEP. While much of a university's reaccreditation is based on what it has done in the past, the QEP looks forward. It serves as a roadmap that addresses a well-defined topic related to improving student learning, and it includes ways to measure that learning over time, said Dr. Tony Carey, vice provost for faculty affairs. He co-leads the QEP team with Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development.
During the 2010-11 academic year, Appalachian considered 29 faculty/staff proposed QEP topics, including student research, citizenship and engagement, and sustainability, before selecting global learning.
"These are all great aspects of the Appalachian Experience, and global learning is an initiative that defines who we are as an institution because Appalachian is committed to graduating students who are fully prepared for this global economy," said Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock.
Some Appalachian students keep journals while they travel overseas. You can read about their adventures here.
Video: Garrett Ford '03, Troy Tuttle '07, Glenn Dion '11
Abbey Reynolds; Interior Design; Boone, NC: We're in London, England right now and we are on an Interior Design field study. We are studying history of architecture here, we are visiting museums, monuments and design firms.
Abbey Reynolds: During my time here in London, I've learned so much valuable information. How international architecture firms work. I've learned a lot about how the English live and how they interact in spaces. The world has become so small and I think we work on such a global level now, that you can't not have experience abroad.
Shane Zimmerman; Interior Design; Trinity, NC: Studying abroad has not only changed my outlook personally but also design-related. What I can see here around me—the design approach is very different from what we have in the States.
Shane Zimmerman: We've been to several design firms. It was very interesting seeing the models and projects and things that they've been working on. Being able to be here and seeing these pieces we talk about, it just seems unreal. You talk about the columns and styles and the different periods, but then now you're actually here seeing it. Being a design student, this is heaven to me. It's mind-opening. Being able to take that back and share it with my peers, my teachers, being able to tie the classroom setting to real-world situations is, in every way, amazing.
John Michael Rehm; Interior Design: I'm studying interior design at Appalachian. As a senior in the program, I've really found that I enjoy the business and marketing behind the design community. Design is global and being able to travel abroad and be here in London and experience a different culture firsthand will only enhance that experience, even after graduation.
John Michael Rehm: You learn about yourself. You challenge yourself. You experience a culture at the same time. That's invaluable to the job community, to the job market, and to life, itself.
Joseph Roberts; Business Management; Moravian Falls, NC: Absolutely, studying abroad is great for any major, I believe. International Business minor, for me, it really puts it into perspective to get outside of your comfort zone and to experience cultures that you're not used to.
Joseph Roberts: Everywhere in Europe is a lot different than in America and conducting business overseas, you really need to have that perspective.
Carolyn Blough; Marketing; Greensboro, NC: I've learned that cultures are very different and you have to direct, as far as marketing goes, you're going to have to adjust to different cultures. You can't market the same way that you do in America.
Leigha Chan; International Business; Hong Kong, China: This international experience has let me see a whole different side of the world and compare my culture with Asia and the United States. This is a new experience in cultural awareness that I've never had, developing my cultural awareness.
Joseph Roberts: We met those students today here and we went to an English as a second language. I got to speak to people who speak German and Spanish. A really nice opportunity to meet other people and to see exactly how hard it is to learn a second or third language.
Leigha Chan: We interact a lot. We talked about the different cultures and it was a cultural shock for them to learn about the United States and Asia. And it was a cultural shock for me to learn about the languages they know, to learn about their upbringing and all of that. We exchanged contacts, so I just made thirty more new friends. I will never, ever forget how much we had fun today.
Colleen Choate; Sustainable Development; Richmond, VA: I'm a Chancellor's Scholar and I'm here with the other nine Chancellor's Scholars in Dublin, Ireland.
Luke Sealey; History; State Road, NC: Chancellor's Scholars are ten students that Appalachian State gives a full scholarship to based on their merit and their ability to change the world. It's a group of students that are very well-rounded and we really work hard to improve our community and the world, itself.
Colleen Choate: We're a pretty diverse group. We have very dissimilar interests and senses of humor, but it's a really fun group to be in and what's really positive is that no matter what it is they're interested in, they're really interested and they're really passionate about it, so it's been a really rewarding environment to be in.
Luke Sealey: As a history major, I'm mainly focused on American history. But I realize that, through all of the history here that we're affected at home as well. It gave me a sense of a bigger picture. Seeing British, Irish, French and Norman history all mixing together into one has really given me a new interest in European history. And now that I've actually been here and felt, instead of just being at home, it's given me more of a sense of global history instead of just American.
Colleen Choate: I'm traveling abroad during the Fall break of my freshman year. It's pretty early to be travelling abroad and studying abroad. It's been a really exciting experience and been a good motivator for me. One of the things I'm really interested in doing is going to Latin America and studying sustainable development there, so this has been a good motivator for trying to find those opportunities already.
John Michael Rehm: Travelling abroad anywhere, for that matter, will challenge yourself as an individual. A lot of times people think that travelling abroad is something they might want to do but it's out of their hands, but at Appalachian it is absolutely an opportunity you can take advantage of.
Abbey Reynolds: It allows you to see different ways of life. It allows you to experience things that you would never get to experience back home.
Shane Zimmerman: The world is becoming so international now, that we cannot only think of our small town as being "that's it." We need to think more globally and the way that our actions back home can affect places around the world.
Leigha Chan: This is the best opportunity I've ever had. To go to a different country with a group of students that you didn't know. You make a ton of new friends. This is just awesome. Just do it.
Luke Sealey: As a freshman in college, as well as when I was in high school, I never got the chance to travel abroad. This has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. Seeing all of these different sites, seeing Monet and Picasso at the art galleries, going and seeing these medieval castles, all of this incredible architecture. Instead of reading about it in books, I got to experience it hands-on. It really enriched me artistically and culturally and I think that I can bring that to the table as well as my experiences at Appalachian State for the rest of my career.