sage – study abroad opportunities at valencia

SAGEmainPageBannerValencia students can experience the soul-changing study abroad experience through Valencia’s Study Abroad and Global Experiences (SAGE) program. Scholarships provide access to those who might otherwise be sidelined by finances.

The mission of SAGE is to prepare students to live, work, and collaborate effectively in a global community by providing learning experiences that promote an understanding of cultural diversity, increase language acquisition and fluency, and develop intercultural competency.

What used to be about learning a foreign language in a “real” setting has grown to produce students who are much more reflective about their career path and how that path fits into the world community.

And an October Chicago Tribune article about Stacie Berdan’s book, “A Student Guide to Study Abroad,” says that those skills learned during international study can have lasting effects in the workplace as well, helping set the world traveler apart from their peers in the search for employment.

The SAGE process is started by a faculty member who would like to incorporate a study abroad component in their course. Faculty do research and select a destination that will best meet the course learning outcomes. Jennifer Robertson, director of SAGE, encourages faculty to do a survey prior to finalizing their proposal to ensure that the location is of interest to students.

Even with scholarship support, these programs can be costly. Currently, the committee expects to approve ten to 12 programs each year, but this will depend on the level of scholarship funding available. Interest and faculty involvement in SAGE is growing, but the reality is the program can’t afford to fund all of the expected 18 proposals for the upcoming year.

The SAGE office is currently accepting applications for 2014 short-term study abroad programs to England, India, Brazil, China, Germany and France, Poland and France and Belgium.

Trips to Italy, Panama and Italy and Greece have closed the application process and are scheduled for February and March of 2014. Chef Pierre Pilloud is leading the tour to Italy where students will have the opportunity to learn about various Italian cooking techniques at the Apicius Center School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy.

Biology professor Melissa Schreiber will take students to Panama City to learn about public health awareness in Panama related to infectious disease. Students will attend lectures at the USMA University and spend time at a UNAIDS facility, as well as spending time with patients and their families at a hospice center and local hospitals.

Professors Tammy Gitto-Kania and Caroline Cully are heading up the trip to Greece and Italy. This humanities course will examine dominant areas in Greco-Roman culture as expressed through government, art, literature, music, philosophy and religion.

Jennifer cites funding support as an integral factor in student involvement. “I have found that if students do not have scholarship dollars then they do not participate.”

To make sure that more programs would run and be successful, the SAGE committee decided to award bigger scholarships to fewer students. Even with the $1,700 scholarships, students can still incur costs for a study abroad experience. It is a fact that keeps Jennifer and her staff always on the search to identify new funding sources for the program.

It is an effort that is most worthwhile and students reap the benefits of a successful SAGE program. Jennifer says, “There is a lot of research already published on the benefits of study abroad, and they have been able to conclude that study abroad increases a student’s ‘global-mindedness’ to sum it up in just a few words. While we cannot really create ‘global citizens’ with just one short-term study abroad experience, these programs open up the minds of our students to the unlimited possibilities that are out there. They come back with a whole new perspective on life and are forever transformed.”

Additionally she shares that study abroad has been linked to higher retention and graduation rates.

Danielle McArdle traveled to Beijing and Shanghai to learn about business in China and feels that she learned so much while she was there. “Study abroad opportunities are important because they broaden your perspectives and open your mind to the fact that the world you live in is not just your immediate surroundings but the whole world.”

Sharon Chacon is a student on Valencia’s Osceola Campus and she traveled to England for a leadership course. She feels it was an incredible experience that allowed her to expand her horizon and immerse herself in a different culture. She says the course changed her life.

“I feel that this study abroad experience and similar opportunities are important because they allow us to grow as people in areas of communications, relations and personal knowledge.” And she echoes the remarks of the Chicago Tribune, citing that study abroad sets her apart from her peers and looks “amazing” on college applications – to have explored beyond America and shown the responsibility and skillfulness required to function in another country.

Sharon is grateful to the scholarship donors who made her trip possible. “The fun and memories I made, along with the friends and partnerships I made in England are priceless. The knowledge and opportunities granted by their donations allowed me to grow as a young adult as well as providing information and experience in the real world. All these things aren’t something that can be taken from you and they will live forever in your heart and mind, thus making the thank you never-ending and completely sincere!”

For more information, you can find SAGE on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB9F7378CCA172DE9&feature=plcp

You can also join the Valencia College Study Abroad group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_192350680814167

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