Overseas offer opportunities

Ana Mihajlovic

Living in a foreign country, gaining job experience and earning a full semester of academic credits while sightseeing and having fun proves to be an attractive alternative to many students.

Each year, about 10 to 15 students participate in the international student teaching program.

Trading their classrooms for a trip to South Africa and the Bahamas was not a hard choice for integrated social studies majors Joe Dunkle and Will Harper.

“Being a college student is all about opportunities,” Dunkle said. “I decided that there was no better time for me to experience life in another country and further my education at the same time. This is something I may never be able to do again.”

Harper agreed, stating that because the United States is so diverse, it is equally important for teachers to be diverse.

“I have a good taste of the American school systems,” he said. “This trip will give me a chance to become more culturally educated and better relate to international and minority students here at home.”

Ken Cushner, executive director of International Affairs, emphasizes how cultural immersion can give participants a unique life experience while adding depth to their education.

“The most important thing that students will take away from their trip is an authentic cultural experience,” Cushner said. “It also makes their r‚sum‚ stand out from other teachers by adding a dimension that staying at home can not satisfy.”

Harper and Dunkle will be traveling through Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching program. Cushner, who served as director of COST from 1995 until 2000, said the program is a collaboration of 15 universities, and Kent State is one of the most active senders.

Kent State has sent students to Australia, Bahamas, Canada, England, Ireland, Kenya, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Japan, Greece, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey.

Knowing a second language is not a requirement. Gretchen Espinetti, student teaching coordinator, encourages all students to apply.

“This is open to any student in the teacher education program,” she said.

To be eligible, students must complete the COST application, have at least a 3.0 GPA, pay a $100 non-refundable placement fee and go through background checks.

“If you really show an interest and do everything that’s required, your chances of getting selected are great,” Harper said.

However, Cushner said there is one drawback to the program.

“There is no financial assistance to students going abroad,” he said.

Cushner added that the total cost of the program varies depending on the country, but financial aid can be applied toward tuition, airfare and housing.

Both Dunkle and Harper said taking part in this cultural exchange is priceless.

“New experiences and a broader outlook cannot be measured. There are so many people from all over the world here at Kent (State). They are learning our language and exploring our culture,” Dunkle said. “It is important for us to do the same since it is so easy to get wrapped up where you are.”

Harper agreed.

“Students should step out of their comfort zone, and this is a great chance,” he said.

For more information about teaching abroad, students can contact Espinetti at [email protected].

Contact international affairs and non-traditional students reporter Ana Mihajlovic at [email protected].