WVSU Study Abroad program returns to broaden students’ experiential horizons

New partnership sends students to Quebec, Mexico this fall

After a pandemic-fueled hiatus, the International Studies Department is bringing back Study Abroad opportunities for students at WVSU who are interested in gaining cultural experience. 

The COVID-19 pandemic left the program dormant since 2020. Recently, the Higher Education Policy Commission partnered with WVSU and Bluefield State to receive a grant through the U.S. Department of Education that will span more than two years, sending students to Quebec and Mexico this fall and early winter. These will be semester-long educational experiences, but there are also plans in making short-term travel experiences to Quebec and Washington D.C. within the next year. 

James Natsis, director of International Studies and at WVSU, is expressing a positive outlook on what the program will offer students with an interest in experiencing cultures beyond the Appalachian region. Semester-long programs, he said, are best for students with a background in International studies or who have taken multiple courses in either French or Spanish. 

Short-term trips will be available to students who have an interest in the International Studies program or would like to learn about the government structure within Washington D.C. and Quebec while absorbing the overall culture. 

“Opportunities like this allow students to develop a more open-minded outlook on our world,” Natsis said. “As educators, these experiences range in what we are trying to do with General Education. I feel programs like these are intended not only for educational purposes but more importantly to develop a structure that will create better citizens.” 

The short-term travel experiences are suited for all students interested in learning about culture beyond the regional norms as well as those seeking a field of study they may potentially want to pursue. 

Rebecca Sutton, an International Studies major, said she plans to attend multiple trips that were made available through the U.S. Department of Higher Education.

“Immersion is the best way to learn a language in my opinion,” she said, adding she believes that this program will bring more attention to the Foreign Language Department at WVSU. “Study Abroad introduces a concept to students on the relevance of different cultures and foreign languages.” 

The Study Abroad Program is open to all students on campus who enjoy traveling and have an interest in the field of study. To enroll, visit the  International Studies Program Department website or email Dr. Natsis (natsisja@wvstateu.edu)

“This could be an opportunity to obtain experiences that you may not realize until encountering them firsthand,” Natsis said. “Exposure to different cultures, beliefs, and government are all predicates for General Education. The Study Abroad program at WVSU has the intention for students to participate with the anticipation that they will become more well-rounded in diverse locations.”

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