Special Session Classes Held Around the World
Winter and summer programs abroad offer students international immersion on a short-term schedule.
While many college students headed home for the winter break between semesters, 118 SUNY students chose to spend theirs on different continents through SUNY Brockport’s study abroad programs.
Brockport has long been a leader in study abroad offerings, with more than 100 programs in more than 35 countries, covering all 7 continents — one of the largest programs in SUNY. Short-term winter and summer programs are on the rise nationwide, and Assistant Director of Study Abroad Lindsay Crane has seen them become increasingly popular with Brockport students. This past summer, more than 160 SUNY students took part in Brockport’s programs.
“It’s not uncommon to see students repeat short-term programs, especially if they’re a little nervous at first about going abroad,” said Crane. “But then once they gain that confidence, maybe they’ll think about doing a full semester or an internship abroad.”
Jimmy Luckman ’17 says Brockport’s robust study abroad program was one of the reasons he chose to enroll at Brockport.
“I grew up in the small town of Lyndonville, NY, and had limited travel experience, so even the thought of leaving the state fascinated me,” he said. “I wanted to go somewhere my textbooks did not take me.” He found that place at the University of Ghana.
Concerns about finances and language barriers had prevented him from pursuing a trip abroad earlier. Now a senior, he decided to make it happen before graduating, while the guidance of staff both at the College and in Ghana would smooth the path for him.
“I knew I was in safe hands because of the strong partnership between Brockport and the University of Ghana. Brockport made it feasible for me to become an international community member,” said Luckman.
Crane says a lot of students seek that reassurance: “For many, this is their first time leaving the country, so they like that comfort of going on a faculty-led program, with more support services day and night.”
Abbey Rossman ’17 took part in Brockport’s Vietnam program this winter. She was often asked why she chose that destination. Her response became a sort of mantra for her: “You have to see the world, to understand the world, to better the world.” The prominent service-learning component of the Vietnam program made it a perfect fit.
“I figured there is no better way to make the most out of an experience than to do community service abroad, so why not do service in a developing nation that our country has had such a significant, and infamous, impact on?” she said.
Rossman and her peers made weekly visits to Agent Orange victims in impoverished areas of Da Nang, a welfare center, and an orphanage. They were often greeted with smiles, hugs, and high-fives.
“Many of the children we met at the welfare center and the orphanage had heartbreaking stories of abandonment or mistreatment by their families,” Rossman said; “however, these were some of the liveliest and kind-hearted spirits I have ever encountered.”
She was most moved by her visits to the Thanh Tam School for Children with Special Needs, where many of the children live in dorms on weekdays because of the far distance from home.
“At the age of seven, I don’t think I would have been able to leave my family every week to go to school. This made me realize how grateful we should be for our access to education here in the U.S.,” she said. She maintained a blog about her experiences while in Vietnam.
Both Rossman and Luckman plan to pursue careers in higher education student affairs. And they both feel better prepared for that path thanks to their experiences abroad.
“A nation with so little has so much character and kindness for one another,” Rossman said of the Vietnamese, “and that is something I hope to spread throughout my journey.”
Luckman, too, is inspired: “This program reminded me to strive to become a stronger ally for underrepresented groups and to create an inclusive community. It made me reevaluate my leadership style.”
Crane emphasizes that Brockport’s robust programs offer students remarkable accessibility.
“You can be a student at a state school and also have access to one of the most prestigious universities in the world,” said Crane.
Luckman agrees: “Brockport does not have just one location. Brockport has partnerships with countries around the world, waiting for students to explore.”