From the July 2022 Desktop News | In May, Dr. Pamela Young, Director of Community Engagement and Economic Development, and Dr. Lisa Pawloski, Associate Dean for International Programs, led a group of UA professional academic advisors and faculty on a study abroad capacity-building trip to South Africa.
The trip, the culmination of a faculty-centered skills-building initiative that began in 2019, had a two-fold goal of equipping advisors to better engage students seeking experiential learning opportunities and diversifying the study abroad participants and opportunities at UA.
Academic advisors play an active role in listening to the goals and aspirations of students and guiding them toward experiential learning opportunities to help them achieve these goals. The 10-day program was designed to help these educational stakeholders experientially learn about the practicalities of applying for and attending study-abroad programs.
Participants Kim Lackey, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences; Keely Latopolksi, Director of Professional Development and Engagement for the Culverhouse College of Business; Eve Machado, Health Professions Advisor for the College of Arts and Science; and Alyssa Stephens, Academic Advisor for the College of Communications and Information Sciences were led through the experience in a way that mirrored a student’s study abroad experience.
“The trip was an incredible opportunity to experience some of what our students will encounter when they participate in study abroad programs while thinking and learning what I would need to do to host a biology study abroad class,” explained Kim Lackey.
The cohort engaged in pre-trip guest lectures to learn about democracy and conservation efforts in South Africa. While in South Africa the group traveled to Cape Town, Garden Route, and Stellenbosch where they visited historical sites and natural resources. The group also met with staff at the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University.
“Participating in this program was incredibly enriching personally and professionally. We gained insight into the complicated history, local cultures, and universities while taking in the breathtaking sights of Cape Town and Stellenbosch. South Africa is a beautifully complex country rich with opportunities for students to have an exceptionally fulfilling study abroad experience,” expressed Keely Latopolksi.
World Learning, an organization funded by the U.S. State Department to expand and diversify study abroad programs at U.S. Colleges and Universities, sponsored this trip. “We chose South Africa because of its rich and vibrant political history and diversity,” Dr. Young shared, “Through this program, we wanted to help advisors guide students increasing the diversity of students who study abroad and where our students go.”