Study Abroad Fair shares opportunities with students


Navyaa Belavadi

During the study abroad fair, there were pamphlets that gave students information about different programs they can attend. //photo by: Navyaa Belavadi

On Jan. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Study Abroad Fair was held in Founders Hall to present students with information about upcoming opportunities to travel around the world for educational opportunities.

“We invite our people from all over the country and all over the world to come in and talk about their programs, and we do our best to showcase the Guilford programs,” said Assistant Director of Study Abroad Robert Van Pelt, who was also the primary coordinator of the Study Abroad Fair. “In our office we have over 800 different programs in over 75 countries split between faculty led programs and affiliate programs with organizations that we partner with.”

The Study Abroad Fair is held twice a year, typically in the beginning of each new semester. This semester presents a new change in the event because it is the first fair that showcased the new Guilford Edge study abroad programs.

“Around the time of the last Study Abroad Fair, we were still in discussion of creating the new Guilford Edge programs,” Van Pelt said. “While we had an idea at this time in the Fall, we didn’t have a finalized plan. So for this iteration, we are showcasing our first array of Edge programming for the Fall 2019 block and are going to begin unloading new faculty-led programs.”

While the Study Abroad was primarily focused on sharing information with students, it was also an opportunity to present students with passports.

“In addition to talking to students about study abroad today, we are running our Passport Caravan event,” said Erik Tarbell, the manager of institutional relations at the Center of Intercultural Exchange and Education. “We collaborated with Guilford (to offer) to give away 100 free passports to students who have never had a passport before.”

As one of the many Guilford College Affiliate Partner Programs, the CIEE held a booth at the Study Abroad Fair.

“CIEE is a non-profit which has been around for over 7 years,” Tarbell said. “It’s one of the oldest and largest study abroad organizations. We offer over 200 programs in 60 different cities and over 8 million dollars in grants and scholarships each year. We’ve got all types of programs: semester, year-long, January term, summer programs, internships abroad and teach abroad.”

Students had the opportunity to get a free passport by applying by Nov. 19, 2018. They had to fill out an application form, proof of US citizenship, proof of identity and a passport photo.

“This is part of our Generation Study Abroad Initiative, in which we pledged to give away 10,000 free passports by 2020 to try and increase the number of students that are studying abroad and open up opportunities to students who have never had a passport before,” Tarbell said.

First-year and education studies major Rebecca Shenhouse was one of the students who came in to Founders to receive a free passport.

“I’ve been collecting all the requirements and filling out applications to get a passport,” Shenhouse said. “It was really simple. I brought in my application, birth certificate and driver’s license and they called me in to take my picture. While I’ve never studied abroad, after this fair, I’d definitely want to. I love to travel, and I think it would be really cool to study while traveling.”

Leftover passports from the Passport Caravan will be available for students in the future.

“If we have any remaining passports, there will still be an opportunity,” Tarbell said. “Students can talk to the study abroad office and they can still get a free passport if they are a first-time passport holder.”

In addition to offering passports to travel, Guilford College accepts a range of affiliate scholarships and offers many scholarships, grants, loan programs and other forms of financial aid for students.

“I wish every student could study abroad, and that’s one of the reasons that we’re trying to make these programs as affordable as possible,” Van Pelt said. “Study Abroad has been one of the most impactful things I’ve had in my life. It’s introduced me to an entirely new worldview, it’s helped me personally gained confidence and it has given me an ability to be more open to more problems and challenges that I face in my day-to-day life.”

The Study Abroad Office is located in the back wing of the Carnegie Room, in Hege Library. Students can visit and talk to Study Abroad Director Daniel Diaz about any questions they may have about financial aid and to find the program that would be right for them.

“I had a great experience with studying abroad, so I definitely encourage students to (participate),” Tarbell said. “It was eye-opening and a life changing experience. One of the most tangible things you can get out of it is you can improve language skills and improve cross-cultural skills. It’s an amazing experience.”