The Consortium for Transatlantic Studies and Scholarship (CTSS) is offering students a chance to study abroad through the Franklin Institute of Universidad de Alcalá in Spain.
Occurring from Jan. 10-March 29, 2023, the program invites students to experience other cultures as they learn about international relations and global issues.
CTSS selected Slippery Rock University staff members Sara Tours and Christine Pease-Hernandez to teach college courses while accompanying students on the trip.
“University professors from around the world come to the institute, so we have to apply to be there and teach,” Tours commented.
Courses are spread in a block schedule and focus mainly on cultural studies. Tours will teach a leadership and advocacy course as Pease-Hernandez teaches one on intercultural communications. All students are required to take a class called “Introduction to Spain” so that they may better understand the country’s history and culture.
The €6,500 (or $6,438) that participants pay goes toward tuition, which includes four courses that each amount to three credits. The payment also covers dormitory housing, three daily meals, health insurance and any cultural outings through the school.
“What’s really great about that is that students can still attend online classes through Slippery Rock at the same time as their in-person courses,” Tours explained. “That way they are not behind schedule.”
What is behind schedule, however, is the trip itself. Pease-Hernandez was originally supposed to teach at the university in the spring of 2021. The trip was postponed until the following year when Tours was brought on board.
“Hopefully, the third time’s the charm for Dr. Pease-Hernandez,” Tours laughed.
Both teachers have experience teaching abroad.
Tours finished her master’s degree in Spain and taught in a kindergarten classroom. She later taught fourth grade there and eventually received her PhD in Paris.
“I also do a lot of work with teachers in India,” Tours added.
Though Pease-Hernandez taught middle school in Mexico, she asserted that she “has done a lot that might not be considered formal teaching”. In addition to chaperoning students as they renovated schools in Bolivia, she took a group of students to Puerto Rico, where they planted mangroves and worked with local literacy programs.
“The year before COVID, we were able to take a student group to Lisbon and Porto, Portugal,” Pease-Hernandez said.
Other SRU staff participate in foreign student programs as well.
“I think Dr. Tours and I might be the only ones that are traveling in the spring,” Pease-Hernandez alleged, “and our deadline is coming up fast.”
However, she does not want this to discourage students from traveling abroad. Pease-Hernandez explained that plenty of other opportunities exist for overseas travel through SRU. The Office of Global Engagement is hosting a study abroad fair on Sept. 22 during common hour, and other travel programs will be approved after May.
Pease-Hernandez would like students to know that “the best time to travel is when you’re in college and can journey with the university. It’s nice when you’re with individuals who are familiar with the area, and faculty who you know can help you navigate through that travel experience.”