valencia expands influence through study abroad programs

While Valencia may be known as a Community College for a few more months, it has already established a global influence. Valencia students looking to expand their horizons as well as their job opportunities have traveled to Denmark, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and even as far as China through existing programs and faculty-led projects. In an effort to produce graduates who will keep the United States competitive in a global economy, Valencia works to help students “learn to appreciate and value different ways of doing things”, according to Jennifer Robertson, director of Valencia’s Study Abroad and Global Experiences (SAGE) program.

Educators maintain that spending time immersed in a foreign culture greatly impacts students’ lives and career choices, gives them a wider perspective on the world, and allows them to relate in a genuine way to people from many different cultures. All of these benefits and more have led to Valencia’s decision to expand study-abroad opportunities.

Through SAGE, Valencia has partnered with Community Colleges for International Development, Inc. and the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, among others, to provide opportunities for students to learn through cultural immersion. One trip in particular, to the Dominican Republic, has spawned follow-up efforts at home to assist those in great need overseas. Valencia student Vanessa Hornedo sold handmade jewelry at local events and also contributed to a student written book “In Our Village” that is sold to raise scholarship funds for Dominican students. Lana Powell, the Valencia professor who accompanied students on that trip, has found that her experiences abroad translate into powerful learning tools that she often includes in lectures to fortify her teaching.

Whether a short term class trip, service learning project, semester program, or student exchange opportunity, Valencia students can easily select the study abroad option that best suits their needs. Currently students can study in over 45 countries as well as U.S. Territories Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. The average cost of a short-term study abroad trip is $3,000, with semester long programs ranging from $5,000 – $15,000+. Scholarships are available to help fund trips and in many cases financial aid applies toward payment for study abroad.

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