Study Abroad Office changes name to Global and Off-Campus Initiatives

“After spending some time this year working very closely with the office and helping students find the right program, I think the name change is important and can be empowering for students,” said Andrew Orchowsky, a Guilford senior who has studied abroad and is working in the Global and Off-Campus Initiatives Office this year.

The organization met over the summer and collectively brainstormed options to phase out the “Study Abroad” terminology.

“We are currently in a transitionary period,” said Robert Van Pelt, the assistant director of Global and Off-Campus Initiatives. “We are trying to phase out the language of ‘Study Abroad Office’ or ‘Office of Study Abroad’ and moving more towards Global and Off-Campus Initiatives.”

Guilford College has earned a spot among the top study abroad programs consistently over the years, and has been known as the Guilford College Study Abroad Office for a long time.

“It’s been the Office of Study Abroad since its inception, I think, in the late ‘70s, and we understand that there is going to be not only a branding shift from our end, as far as changing the name of the office, but also a cultural shift as well,” Van Pelt said. “And we understand that may take several years before that language catches on.”

The new title was created to more accurately embrace the range of programs offered within the United States in addition to the ones out of the country.

“The main motivation for the name being changed was that we wanted it to be more encompassing for the work that we do,” Van Pelt said.

“While international programs are still focuses of this office, it is not the only focus of this office,” Van Pelt continued. “We do work with domestic programs, which we formerly classified as study-away. But the term ‘Office of Study Abroad’ doesn’t really encompass that.”

While many are aware of the international programs, not all realize that the office offers many domestic programs as well.

“This spring is partially domestic, because there is a program that is in Hawaii and Japan and a program that is in Utah,” said Daniel Diaz, director of Global and OffCampus Initiatives.

“With some of our three-week classes that have been developed, we can see that many different types of ‘off-campus initiatives’ can be eye-opening for students,” Orchowsky said. “The upcoming spring three-week course titled ‘Geology in the Wild: Utah,’ for example, is not a ‘study abroad’ trip, but I have no doubt that it will be a very rewarding experience for those students who enroll.”

Another concern about the original name was that it only referenced a classroom-type education.

“The name ‘study abroad’ implies that the only opportunity students have to learn and grow while abroad is by taking classes,” Orchowsky said.

“The field of international education is much more dynamic and has a lot more to offer students than just studying. Last semester when I studied abroad in Chile, I was able to also volunteer part time in a health clinic in Valparaíso. This was an incredibly valuable experience, and I learned so much not through studying, but through working with Chilean psychologists and patients, visiting the homes of community members,” he said.

The office’s name change will not affect students’ opportunities to participate in its regularly offered programs.

“As a whole right now, it’s really just a branding change,” Van Pelt said. “As far as the programs that we offer and all of our affiliate programming, our short-term, three-week experiences, our summer experiences, nothing is changing because of this branding.”

Guilford social media platforms such as Instagram and the College’s website now have listed the Study Abroad Office as the Global and Off Campus Initiatives Office.

“We are moving our social media to be more in line,” said VPelt. “We are also trying to shorten the name by saying GOCI or go see, like ‘go see the world.’”

Under the new registration cycle, the new deadline for the 2020-21 academic year will be April 1. GOCI will host a Global Engagement Fair to showcase the office’s programs on Jan. 29 in Founders Hall.

“To be honest, when I first heard about the name change, I was apprehensive,”   Orchowsky said.

“Although it may take a little time to catch on, I now think that Global and Off-Campus Initiatives does do a better job of encapsulating all of the amazing off-campus opportunities available for us Guilford students.”


Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 5 of The Guilfordian on Nov. 8 2019.