Friday, May 24

UCLA Travel Study to include five new programs

From fieldwork dealing with sustainable development in Senegal, West Africa, to viewing performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England, both new and continuing Travel Study programs present students opportunities to extend their learning outside of the classroom and exercise their knowledge in the real world.

Starting in summer 2010, UCLA’s Travel Study will be offering five new programs in Shanghai, Cairo, Brazil, Senegal and Jerusalem.

Along with coursework, these programs provide service learning opportunities and fieldwork studies for students in an academic context, said Sergio Broderick-Villa, manager of Travel Study’s faculty-led programs.

“These five new locations increase both the geographic and academic diversity we offer,” Broderick-Villa said.

The new programs were selected from proposals drafted by faculty directors in various academic departments, added Travel Study Student Service Coordinator, Nancy Montez.

“Yet with the recent budget cuts, we can’t always take new programs,” Montez added.

Based on the curriculum and the approximate cost of the program, a prediction is made on how many students will enroll. If the numbers look good and no revenue loss is estimated, then the program will be approved, Montez said.

Broderick-Villa added that in light of these additional programs, safety concerns are still carefully assessed through a formalized process involving the UC Office of the President and subscriptions to various travel intelligence risk systems.

“All program locations have been visited in advance by program faculty,” Broderick-Villa said.

The Jerusalem program is being reopened after the UCOP security and safety assessment team deemed that Israel is once again a safe place, Broderick-Villa said.

“Probably more important than conflict and terrorism are issues related to health,” Broderick-Villa added.

With the swine flu outbreak during spring 2009, there were concerns about whether the global studies program in Mexico would continue or even take place during the 2009 summer.

“We consulted the CDC and the State Department and decided to hold off on canceling the program. We gave students the option to withdraw with a full refund. Interestingly enough, out of close to 50 students, only two or three withdrew. This goes a long way to show how thoughtful students are,” Broderick-Villa said.

Broderick-Villa added that no students contracted swine flu on the program and he is confident that students will carry the same daring spirit this year.

“The most important thing is that students do their best to take care of themselves: eating well and sleeping well. Our job here is to re-remind students of the very basic things like staying hydrated in say, Shanghai, which is a very hot and humid place,” Broderick-Villa said.

In addition to basic safety precautions, students are also encouraged to document their trip online.

This past summer, the English Shakespeare program in Stratford-upon-Avon and London sponsored a blog, “Bruins in Bardland,” for students to update friends and family back home on their everyday adventures abroad.

Students received their own personal page to create a brief summary of their interests while they chronicled their experience through both writing and photos.

“Shakespeare performed live is amazing. It was the first Shakespeare performance that I’ve seen live, and I was kind of hit during the middle of the play by the realization that this play has been performed on stage for the last 400 years,” said Amanda Pluskett-Turley, a fourth-year American literature and culture student who participated in the program this summer. “The combination of the talented actors and live audience was extremely powerful.”

Broderick-Villa added that the Travel Study Program is working on developing increased multimedia platforms in hopes of providing a personal venue for students to share their experience with the rest of the UCLA community.

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