Kelly George is no stranger to education abroad. An assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, she has led over 630 students abroad since 2008 on programs ranging from Exotic Animal Behavior and Welfare and Human-Animal Interactions to Scotland’s Ruminants and Equine Studies in Europe.
“Our education abroad courses are designed to offer students an intensive short-term experience examining different aspects of animal sciences in other cultural contexts. We have determined short-term experiences better meet the schedules and budgets of our students, and therefore have been quite successful in recruitment and overall student satisfaction.
Our students gain a better understanding of how and potentially why peoples of other cultures engage with animals differently, as well as offering an opportunity for self-reflection of their own engagements with and considerations for non-human animals. Additionally, our students gain cultural competency, especially given that many of our students travel on multiple experiences, creating breadth of their knowledge.
I have been so fortunate to travel with so many amazing students over the years. My favorite moment is when I see a student have that defining moment when they demonstrate confidence; whether that is exhibited by ordering a meal in a different language, or leading a discussion about a topic they didn’t have prior knowledge of, the personal growth that is expressed through change in body posture and tone of voice is personally rewarding.
Education abroad offers students opportunities for personal growth, professional networking, relationship building with peers and mentors, and often times a new perspective or lens to view their discipline or life experiences through. Spending time abroad also offers gains in important soft skills, such as maintaining a positive attitude, problem-solving, time management and working in a team environment. I wish every student had the opportunity to participate in an education abroad experience because I believe the “easiest” time in your life to have these experiences is while in college. Education abroad offers an organized and safe environment to explore, learn, and have fun!
My advice for resident directors is to enjoy your time seeing the experience through your students' eyes. This will not be an 8 to 5 day so you must enjoy interacting with students.”