“EF Tour’s International Training Tour in Barcelona was an invaluable resource for understanding my role as an educator on a study abroad trip. The entire weekend I was surrounded by caring, knowledgeable people who genuinely believe in the transformative power of travel for students.” Nils Michals, MFA, WVC English Department
WVC Study Abroad Program has scheduled four study tours with EF that depart in June 2018: Nils Michals, faculty member in the English Department, will lead a study tour to London, England that is focused on English 1B Critical Thinking through Literature; Karina Dundurs, faculty member in Business Administration and Computer Applications, will lead a study tour to Japan that is focused on Business 61 Business Government and Society; Leigh Burrill, faculty member in the English Department and Women, Gender, and Queer Studies Program (along with Drs. Anna Brichko and Dulce María Gray), will lead a Service Learning study tour to Dominican Republic that is focused on English 13 Latinx Literature, WGQS 3 Introduction to Gender Studies, and French 50A-B and 51A-B Conversation; and, Renée Paquier, Dean in the Fang Pei Che School of Professional Studies (along with Victor Castillo, faculty member in the Administration of Justice Program), will lead a study tour to London that is focused on Administration of Justice 21 Community Relations.
This team of WVC Study Abroad Program faculty leaders are joining other faculty leaders from institutions across the United States in attending EF College Study Tours’ Orientation and Development Seminar in Barcelona, the largest city in Catalonia and the second most populous municipality of Spain. (Here is the itinerary.) This seminar is provided by EF at no cost to WVC; it aims to prepare faculty to lead study tours more effectively.
The work completed during the seminar includes:
- Seeing a program in action with a Tour Director, experiencing walking tours, meals, hotels and sightseeing at popular cultural destinations.
- Learning helpful tips and advice from experienced Group Leaders.
- Discussing best practices and challenges for planning, recruiting and traveling
- Participating in a workshop with EF staff to cover topics like academic content and connection, Tour Director and Group Leader roles and safety and security.
- Reviewing general program expectations like flights, packing, currency and tipping, spending money, meals, dietary restrictions, hotels and rooming and free time,
- Strategizing how to weave course content with the tour activities.
This five-day seminar also provides hands-on experience, confidence, awareness and connection to the study abroad community. Activities are guided by a local Tour Director and experienced EF staff and group leaders. Activities include:
- walking tour of Barcelona, one of the most artistic and colorful cities on earth,
- tour of architect Antoni Gaudí’s landmark Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia,
- mosaic-covered buildings, steps and sculptures in Antoni Gaudí’s verdant Park Güell,
- tour of the Magic Fountain of Montjuīc, designed by engineer Carles Buigas and built in 1929 for the International Exhibition,
- and a panoramic view of the harbor from atop the Montjuīc Hill,
- enjoying typical Catalonian and Spanish food,
- stops at locations specific to the faculty leader’s academic program,
- planning logistics and attending to the unique dynamics of student group travel.
Highlights of the Lessons These Four Faculty Leaders Learned
From Karina Dundurs:
- Ask EF to notify you when a student corresponds with EF, because some details do affect the group leader.
- Find out how much free time there is on the study tour, and how long the group will stay at each site, then do an itinerary run through.
- Remind students to pack light (preferably a carry-on–especially if the study tour entails staying in multiple locations).
- Recommend to students to bring the following:
- money belt (for around the waist)
- light easily cleaned travel apparel
- a multi-pocket SCOTTeVest
- comfortable walking shoes
- Remind students to take a business card with hotel’s address, and to take a picture of the Metro station, before they go explore on their own.
- Remind students to explore on their own in small groups or pairs.
- Create fun activities (e.g., who packed the lightest) and award small gifts (e.g., a WVC t-shirt).
- BEFORE departure, make sure that all students provide proof of having any required immunizations.
From Leigh Burrill:
- Bring swag from campus for the Tour Director!!
- It’s important to communicate with the Tour Director before you arrive in-country about how you’d like to integrate your curricular content into the tour, and PLAN AHEAD OF TIME for moments during the tour when you’ll take over talking as the faculty member guiding the students.
- It’s a nice gesture to publicly thank the Tour Director on the last day of the tour, and perhaps present the college swag (e.g., a WVC t-shirt or something) on that last day.
- When you’re in-country, time is at a premium, so you’re not going to have time to “hold a class discussion” or “teach” like in traditional set ups back on campus. Therefore, get most of the content taught before and after travel!
From Nils Michals:
- Travel is an incredible opportunity to bring a one of a kind learning experience to your students.
- The bonds students form on a study abroad experience will last their entire lives.
- Travel fundamentally changes people and how they view others. Here is my favorite quote from the weekend by Mark Twain:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
- The educational leader and the tour director have defined roles on a study abroad trip.
- There are ESSENTIAL differences between single, twin, and triple/quad sleeping arrangements on trips.
- It’s important that the educational leader set expectations early for students on the study abroad trip.
- It is the role of the educational leader to set expectations regarding student behavior [and they MUST follow the code of conduct established by West Valley College].
- Passports are everything. Losing your passport on a trip can easily be a $2000 mistake.
- Being punctual is the responsibility of the educational leader.
- Use social media before, during and after the study tour in order to build community and create excitement. For example:
- blog and include many pictures;
- create a FB page for the Study Abroad Program;
- create FB pages for each study tour.
- Post every day in order to help keep family and friends connected to the travelers.
- Be sure to teach best practices for risk reduction and travel safety.
- For example, make sure that students complete forms, and that you have them on hand, with all of their emergency and medical information.
- Make sure that one other faculty leader in your group or at the college has a copy of that packet of information.
- Be sure to prepare yourself by having all of the emergency numbers that you need and knowing who to call, even in cases when you dont know what to do next.
- Keep very calm when things do not go the way they are supposed to go.
- Remind students to use their phones to take pics of metro maps, hotel address and emergency numbers, so that they always have this important information.
- Recommend that they carry a travel-size battery charger.
- Encourage students to capture wow moments with their cameras, videos and journal entries.
- Journal entries promote reflection and the development of a sense of wonder.
- Prepare students during pre-departure orientations, especially because some students have low threshold anxiety.
- Celebrate birthdays: be sure to know who will be having a birthday during the trip, and bring something to help celebrate.
- Play games (for example, recognizing types of music) and award prizes for who has packed the lightest, who has the most school gear, who blogged or posted the most on social media.
- Get shirts or hats with the school logo for all students on the study tour, so they can wear it during group photos.
- Bring a small flag or banner with the college name and logo so you can include it in group photos.
- Ideas for promoting study abroad study tours:
- Send a letter to incoming students during the summer orientation.
- Work with admissions and records to have this letter sent out with other materials
- and speak for a few minutes at Convocation.
- Before departure, bring guest speakers from the country you will be visiting.
- Host an end of the year party or reunion and include video testimonials and a slideshow.
- Give students useful and motivational short articles that describe the functional use of traveling, for example:
Additional issues to consider:
- How can we move experiential learning beyond informing students to forming students?
- How can we move experiential learning to foster students’ leadership skills?
- How can we move experiential learning to foster students’ problem-solving skills?
- How can we use short-term study tours to develop needed 21st century skills such as global competencies, creativity, collaboration, adaptability, and empathy?
- How can we use short-term study tours to teach students to see beyond current American emphasis on nationalism and instead to focus on challenges facing the globe.
- How can we use short-term study tours to practice interdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration?