Global Discovery Right Here at Home

April 06, 2021

By Elsa Wenzel

International student plays with a soccer ball in her dorm room.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Despite travel restrictions, Rollins has doubled down on its commitment to global learning with innovative opportunities for international engagement.

This past fall, Rollins was once again recognized among the nation’s top 10 institutions for the percentage of students who study abroad. Even with passports tucked away, the far-reaching work of gaining global perspective and increasing cultural fluency remains very much at the forefront of the Rollins experience.

The College has long integrated global perspectives into our classroom learning as a foundational lens through which to view the world. In a year without travel, we’ve ramped up these offerings even more by creating new avenues of global engagement and new alliances across departments to enable these important shifts.

Whether through taking Global Citizenship: No Passport Required, a new one-credit course that helps students reflect on intercultural experiences, or taking part in a remote virtual internship through the new Virtual Global Fellows program, Rollins is ensuring that our students remain well prepared for the day they can once again take flight.

Zoom screens connecting Jazlynn Breton ’21 to her internship supervisor and fellow interns at a Costa Rican nonprofit.
Psychology major Jazlynn Breton ’21 helped a Costa Rican nonprofit that serves impoverished communities launch its first-ever international fundraiser as part of her virtual summer internship.

Virtual Global Internships

Reimagined virtual international internships have been opening windows to the world between the Rollins campus and places like Uganda, China, Spain, and Vietnam.

“All the internships have a course component that helps provide students with cultural context and encourages them to approach cultural differences with humility and respect,” says Giselda Beaudin, Rollins’ director of global initiatives.

Anthropology and religious studies double major Jacqueline Bengston ’22 interned virtually last summer with the Netherlands-based Fenix Humanitarian Aid through Rollins’ study abroad partner, the School of International Training (SIT). She worked to help the organization assist residents in the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, Greece, by leading grant writing projects and researching ways to measure and monitor the level of client empowerment.

“Cultivating yourself as a global citizen is going to look different for awhile, and there are actionable ways in which we can do that,” says Bengston, a Bonner Leader who has studied abroad in both Jordan and Nepal during her time at Rollins. “[My virtual internship experience] has empowered me so much to continue to learn and develop myself as a global citizen and to understand the plight of the most vulnerable people.”

Combining passions for music, art, and human rights, Elizabeth Smith ’22 served as a Virtual Global Fellow with the Global Livingston Institute.
Combining passions for music, art, and human rights, Elizabeth Smith ’22 served as a Virtual Global Fellow with the Global Livingston Institute.

Virtual Global Fellows Program

Several students who months earlier were lining up journeys to East Africa through the Global Livingston Institute (GLI) instead joined its new Virtual Global Fellows program. The five-week fellowship connected Tars to development work in Uganda.

“GLI was able to integrate and connect a lot of what we were learning to what we were facing as a society in our hometowns,” says social entrepreneurship major Ariel Williams ’22. “One example was the march for Black Lives Matter and the discussion of community support.”

Williams conducted a research project on cultural exchange and impact to help further the Denver-based GLI’s mission to educate and empower students on international development.

Group video discussions with other Virtual Global Fellows included deep dives on rural agriculture, early childhood education, and environmental tourism. A close look at the Entusi Resort & Retreat Center in Uganda was especially beneficial for Williams, who aspires to a career in conservation tourism.

“I was able to expand my international network, discuss topics that I’m interested in for a career, and learn more about how to research key things before traveling abroad,” says Williams, who continues to receive research and career guidance from one of her GLI teachers.

Student discusses study abroad experiences with a staff member in the Office of International Programs.
From its digs in Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, the College’s Office of International Programs is a gateway to more than 90 study abroad experiences. Photo by Scott Cook.

Global Citizenship Course

With the development of a new one-credit class, Global Citizenship: No Passport Required, students prepare for international experiences and reflect on intercultural experiences in our culture. The course’s curriculum includes readings and deep dialogues about pressing global issues as well as analysis of foreign films, such as Article 15 from India and Chief Daddy from Nigeria.

“We’ve wanted to develop a course connected to study abroad forever,” says Beaudin, who created the course, which is expected to remain in the catalog long term. “This just forced us to do it because we had to make it a priority.”

One of the course’s first students was international business major Elijah Noel ’20, who spent his first three undergraduate years as a shooting guard for the men’s basketball team. He couldn’t wait to attend a soccer match in Madrid during his fourth year study abroad experience. COVID-19, of course, dashed those plans, but Noel found a silver lining.

“I truly don’t believe I could’ve picked a better course to end my time at Rollins,” says Noel, who credits the class for helping him realize that it’s not enough to be a global citizen in your own life, but that you must be compassionate, understanding, and impactful in the lives of others.

Environmental studies professor Barry Allen leads a group of incoming students through a Costa Rican rainforest.
Environmental studies professor Barry Allen leads a group of incoming students through a Costa Rican rainforest before they ever step foot on campus.Photo by Scott Cook.

Global Integration

Faculty like environmental studies professor Barry Allen long accustomed to driving home issues like sustainability in the field had to rethink ways to engage students through experience.

For his course, National Parks and Protected Areas, Allen decided to examine the painful effects of the ecotourism slowdown in Costa Rica, where his students normally would have traveled for a firsthand look at sustainability and conservation. Instead, the class connected virtually with Allen’s extensive network of Costa Rican hoteliers, restaurant owners, and natural history guides that he has amassed on more than 50 field studies to the region over the past two decades.

Political science professor Dan Chong had to cancel three field studies, but past travels to Cuba, South Africa, Thailand, and Tanzania continually infuse just about everything he teaches. Students in Chong’s International Politics and Global Poverty course learned how to use a service called NaTakallam, which means “we speak” in Arabic, to learn firsthand from refugees who receive income in the process. Students in his International Human Rights class volunteered remotely with VoteRiders, a nonprofit dedicated to helping marginalized people secure photo identification to vote.

Flags of the world line Mills Lawn for International Education Week.
Photo by Scott Cook.

International Education Week

The annual celebration of International Education Week (IEW) continued last semester with a full menu of remote and in-person events. This initiative of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and encourage students from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.

Facilitated by the Office of International Programs and the Office of International Student & Scholar Services, the weeklong celebration was particularly relevant this past semester for Rollins’ 300 international students who hail from 67 different countries. Socially distanced offerings included everything from a scenic boat tour on the Winter Park Chain of Lakes to trivia parties, French and German language hours, photo contests, and a TikTok poll. WPRK’s international radio show expanded to feature international students talking about culture, music, and their experiences in the States.

“In addition to our group programs that are focused on immigration compliance and knowledge, employment, and cultural and social activities, we are meeting with students daily for check-ins, advising, and planning,” says Jenifer Ruby, Rollins’ director of international student and scholar services. “We are making the most of the circumstances and making sure that our international students have the knowledge and community they need to succeed.”

A collage of photos from various Rollins study abroad experiences.

Study Abroad

At Rollins, you’ll make an impact around the globe. After all, more than 70 percent of Tars study abroad. From semester- and summer-long programs to faculty-led field studies, you’ll explore the world and test your ability to make it better.

Grow Abroad at Rollins

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