Have you ever wondered why people love to travel so much, why students love the idea of studying abroad, and why it’s great to spend time in a country whose language and cultures are dissimilar to yours?
I have! I love to travel, study abroad, and learn about various cultures. It’s not a mere hobby either. I truly believe that having international experience will broaden your horizons in many ways. You may learn a new language, find a new past time, discover yourself, and grow personally and professionally.
It just so happens that that these two wonderful ladies agree with me too.
Lynn Cook is the Assistant Director of the Public Health Science Program here at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). I am so fascinated by her time in China that I couldn’t help but ask her to share a little bit about it here.
This is what Lynn says:
In 1987, before many of you were born, was a “Foreign Expert” at the Xinhua News Agency in Beijing. There, I worked alongside Chinese journalists, helping them with their English grammar and syntax. This was a transformative experience for me. What I learned about Chinese history, culture, and people changed my life. I am more tolerant, more accepting, and have a more intuitive understanding of that society. I would say I still have China “under my skin,” and I always will. The experience of living abroad is very much a part of who I am.
Wendy Stickle is the Program Director of Criminology and Criminal Justice at USG. As we were exchanging stories of our winter break activities, I learned about her travels to Thailand. Here is what Wendy says about her experience:
This past January I took a group of 11 UMCP undergraduate students to Thailand to study human trafficking. We toured two different NGO’s that work to prevent trafficking and also volunteered with one of themto help improve their day school property. The school is used for children who cannot afford or are not eligible to attend Thai state schools. These children are incredibly vulnerable to being trafficked. We also taught English at a state-run school for a week. For many of the Thai students it was their first exposure to Westerners. Although we were overwhelmed at the prospect of teaching English we learned that songs and pictures were a great way to communicate. And of course, they all have Facebook and loved to communicate with us through there! Studying abroad offers you direct training in cultural sensitivity, a trait that nearly all professionals need. It also allows you to make international connections, improving your professional network. You never know what opportunities may arise when participating in these types of experiences!
I want to thank Lynn and Wendy for sharing their stories with us. I hope that you enjoy their experience and insight as much as I do!