Faculty-led travel programs see new destinations for Spring Term

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The University of Indianapolis announced this year’s study abroad programs for the 2024 Spring Term, according to the Christel Dehaan Center for Global Engagement. Spring Term will see destinations in Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, England, Japan, South Africa, Scotland and Spain, according to the Center for Global Engagement. The trips vary in length specific focus of study.

UIndy Director of Global Engagement Ghina Sadek said that this school year offers a record number of travel programs for students to sign up for. According to Sadek, the programs cater to a variety of majors in order to focus more on student interest.

“You have a record of seven Spring Term international travel courses open for undergraduate students of all majors this year, which speaks to, yes, the interest of the faculty, but also the interest of the students that they want to participate,” Sadek said.

According to Sadek, planning the programs is a lengthy process that requires multiple aspects and levels of approval. Sadek said she recommends that the planning process for a travel program is at least a year, in order to properly plan for said program.

“Usually that starts from the faculty members themselves. It’s not something that I or the university comes and tells them, ‘Hey, you need to do this program.’ It’s really what the faculty’s passionate about, what they’re researching at the moment or the area of the world that they’re interested in,” Sadek said. “… Faculty will plan the course that they’re offering—This is a study abroad course, so they’ll have to plan that course and each department has its own process of approving those courses.” 

Sadek said that there is a mix of both new and recurring travel programs offered this year. According to Sadek, while trips to Cyprus, England and Scotland have happened before, students also have the opportunity to visit new destinations like South Africa.

“There’s some destinations that we’ve never offered before and those are kind of the most different, but it’s been a long, long time since we’ve gone to Japan, and so, for the first time in multiple years, we have a spring term in Japan, which is very exciting. I am not sure that we’ve ever gone to South Africa on a Spring Term and we have one this year,” Sadek said. “So in terms of destinations, there are a couple that are brand new. The nice thing is that there’s a few that are recurring and we love seeing those because we know it’s faculty who’ve loved the same trip before.”

According to UIndy Associate Professor of Communication Katie Greenan, her faculty-led travel program will visit England and Scotland. Greenan said that the trip is co-led by her and Assistant Professor of Practice for Communication Rick Dunkle.

“I am teaching Communicating in a Global Context, which is Spring Term 299, and it’s open to all students on campus,” Greenan said. “It’s going to take place in the United Kingdom, specifically London and Scotland, in May, for two weeks. Students will be learning about interpersonal communication, intrapersonal communication and mediated group communication.”

Greenan said that since a scavenger hunt in which students find historic sites during her Spring Term in Italy was the most popular activity, she is bringing it back for her 2024 trip. The activity involves going on a scavenger hunt with three to four people and writing about their findings in a blog post, according to Greenan.

“We will be going to places such as Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile and Castle Blackness. There will be a lot of group tours and excursions, which is very cool,” Greenan said. “They will also have some free days to kind of go around Scotland or London on their own or with people. In London, we’re going to Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace and the Tower of London.”

According to Sadek, she helps ensure that the trips are successful and well-prepared. She also said she helps guide trip leaders when they have any questions regarding setup.

“My role is to make sure that the trip leaders are well equipped and they know what they’re getting themselves into,” Sadek said. “I can answer their questions, help guide them in what they need to prepare and what could come up.”

Sadek said that she functions as a person for emergency contact when students are traveling abroad. Students who have any questions regarding applying for financial aid, navigating the process or deciding which program to use can reach out to her, according to Sadek. There are digital and paper flyers across campus that have QR codes that students can scan to see more information.

“The fastest, easiest thing they can do to express their interest in any of our multiple programs is to scan that QR code. There’s a QR card on that digital flyer or physical flyer and sign up that they’re interested through that. Or they could also email the contact person for that check,” Sadek said. “That’s going to be the fastest, most direct way to get more information about that. They’re also always welcome to come speak with me. Obviously, I have the full list and can tap a leader in or convey their questions to a leader.”

Sadek said that there are multiple ways for students to help fund their trips through financial aid. The UIndy-sponsored scholarships are most important, Sadek said, as they fall within the time frame.

“There’s a couple of internal ones. One of them is through the Shaheen College of Arts and Sciences, they offer a study abroad grant of up to $3,000. It’s open to all students whose major is within the Shaheen College of Arts and Sciences,” Sadek said. “They offer that in three cycles, the first one is in early November and they offer that to three applicants that they decide qualify.”

According to Sadek, students should know that UIndy is here to make studying abroad an option for them. Sadek said that it is a great experience and there are resources available to help them.

“We can help get you grants and scholarships externally,” Sadek said. “We can help find you an affordable program that fits with your schedule and your major. I don’t want anybody to think that, ‘Hey, traveling internationally is not an option for me.’ I’d want you all to know that it’s an option.”

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