Study Abroad Day – All Week at North Central College
Last year, North Central College celebrated Study Abroad Day with a social media takeover and Instagram posts. This year, they are looking forward to a variety of events with a campus-wide campaign lasting the entire week.
Rachel Birkley is an alumna of North Central College, and studied abroad for a semester in Seville, Spain, through the office she now works in. After graduating with her Bachelors in Elementary Education and Spanish, she was awarded a Fulbright grant and served as an English Teaching Assistant in Logroño, Spain and upon returning to the United States, pursued a Masters in Higher Education Leadership at North Central. Through this program, she completed a Graduate Assistantship in Education Abroad and has since been hired into her full-time role of Coordinator, Education Abroad in the Center for Global Education at North Central College. As evidence of her passion for this work, she and Kimberly Larsson, Executive Director, Center for Global Education and Assistant Dean, International Recruitment and Admissions, partnered on an IDEAs grant initiative, which was funded by the U.S. Department of State and World Learning, to integrate a semester abroad into the two most underrepresented majors in study abroad on their campus: elementary education and engineering. Additionally, they will be working to increase participation of their most underrepresented students, students of color, first generation, and Pell-eligible students.
North Central has been able to send a small group for Spring 2022, after not having been able to since pre-pandemic. “The small group of students who are currently abroad have been such a flexible and resilient group of students. Many of them have been waiting to study abroad since fall 2020, and despite the additional requirements and steps needed to study abroad, they have worked hard to be able to make their experience abroad happen. Overall, students have been very understanding and patient as our office works through the unknowns of the pandemic, too.”
For Study Abroad Day 2022, the Center’s week-long celebration activities include:
- A campus-wide flag hunt, where each day, students must find a specific flag for a country where they offer a program abroad to earn prizes;
- Putting out a large yard sign that says #GoGlobal on the lawn to let their campus community know about the flag hunt;
- Hosting trivia on campus, with prizes for answering questions about education abroad opportunities;
- Launching a Study Abroad Day campaign among faculty and staff including providing “Please, Go Away” t-shirts and “Go Global” office signs;
- Sharing an email with study abroad-related facts and highlighting current students abroad;
- In partnership with their campus marketing department, coordinating a week-long social media campaign with takeovers from students currently abroad, words of wisdom from faculty and staff who have studied abroad, and highlighting current exchange students studying abroad at North Central.
They have seen a positive response so far from faculty and staff eager to wear their new T-shirts in celebration of Study Abroad day, and they hope this celebration will inspire students and inform them about their opportunities to study abroad. “We believe that this campaign will ‘breathe new life’ and awareness into the global opportunities offered for students. We hope to, once again, build confidence and curiosity about the world among our students.”
Rachel says, their “most important message is that study abroad is possible for ALL students, not just for those within certain majors, not just for those who have money, etc.” and that they will continue to “work hard to share the message that if you want to go abroad, there is a way to make it happen. Study Abroad Day gives our office the platform to inform students, faculty, and staff that study abroad is possible for everyone.”
Happy Study Abroad Day Rachel and North Central College!