Article by Sheila Mallay | Owl Staff
Imagine roaming through ancient Mayan cities or exploring dense rainforests instead of sitting at a desk. Imagine diving through prestigious barrier reefs and feasting on delicious local cuisine. An adventure like this waits in Belize and can be achieved through the International Travel Program.
Susan Sullivan is a massage therapist who learned about HCC’s International Travel Program through one of her clients. During her trip, she stayed for two weeks in a group home in Belize. She graduated from the nursing program that same summer, and said she enjoyed the entire experience.
The International Travel Program allows students to choose a semester and travel abroad for a credited class. Students get the opportunity to travel to another country for about ten days and experience a different culture first-hand.
Dr. Stephanie Hallock, Professor and Coordinator of the International Travel Program, describes the program as a “life-changing experience.” Julie Rothwell went to Greece and Italy in 2008. She is currently the Student Activities Coordinator, and urges students to get on board. She says, “You see things you’ve never seen before and learn about yourself,” about traveling abroad.
The program offers a nursing practicum in Belize, where nursing majors can travel for two weeks to practice nursing in an underdeveloped country. Students get the opportunity to travel to rural villages and see how different their healthcare and living systems are.
Professor Madelyn Danner started the nursing program in Belize. “It’s dirty and dusty and you can’t drink the water,” she says, “but it’s the awareness that that’s how a lot of people live in the world.” Danner also states, “Students come back with their eyes opened and are very appreciative of what they have here.”
Before the trip, professors tell their students how to travel, pack, and what to expect. Students are given a preplanned itinerary and travel with a local tour director and translator, the instructor, and an HCC representative. The students are always with a group, so they don’t have to worry about being by themselves.
In 2008, students did a service-learning project in Greece and Italy. At one point, they even shared a crowded basement at a church in Italy and taught Afghan refugees English and colored pictures with them. Hallock mentioned that many of those refugees had never met an American, and that interaction with the students made them curious about Americans and wanting to travel to the U.S. themselves. She calls it the “global ripple effect.”
The fee to travel abroad is generally between $2800 and $3000, which includes airfare, lodging, transportation, and meals. Students can also use any forms of financial aid and loans they have to help pay for the trip.
HCC’s mission is to dedicate the college to “lifelong learning, global awareness, and social and cultural enrichment.” The International Travel Program offers an unbelievable experience that is only a few steps away.