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Spring 2014

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Gaining Global Perspective

By Rebecca Wakefield

Educational programs abroad increase awareness and expand horizons for Barry students.

Study abroad programs have been popular for decades, but their focus has changed from the classic academic values of picking up a foreign language and a new perspective on course content to something much broader – cross-cultural communication skills and global awareness.

For Barry, based in culturally-diverse Florida, a growing roster of international programs aim to broaden student experiences in the world, whether for a few days or more than a year. They range from hands-on social service programs to courses in international law, business, medicine, history, and religion.

Nearly every school offers a program or two aimed at enhancing their degrees. Students can also get Barry credit by completing an approved study abroad program offered by an international university.

For that, they must go to Dr. Katherine Nelson, an associate professor of communication and the university’s director of study abroad. Nelson is the den mother/spirit guide you’ve always wanted in a study abroad coordinator. “No, honey, don’t go to France. You’ve been to France. Go to Australia. Go to New Zealand. Go to Greece,” she advises.

Nelson admits that students’ reactions to going abroad are often similar–“It changed my life!”–but no less relevant for being predictable. There really is nothing like travel for personal growth.

“It broadens their mind, forces them out of whatever box they existed in,” Nelson reflects. “They have finally really experienced culture shock. They realize that they’ve lived in a vacuum and they come back with a bigger perspective on the greater good. They come back a lot more mission oriented.”