- Nancy Ruther, EdD
Bringing Study Abroad into the Classroom: Our Investment in Community College Students
by Grace East
In a few weeks, Gazelle International is taking on New Orleans, Louisiana for the Community Colleges for International Development (CCID) 46th Annual Conference! This year’s theme is “Reunited and Ready to Revolutionize: Embracing the Future of International Education” and we couldn’t be more excited to join our fellow educators in committing to more accessible and inclusive internationalization experiences for community college students. Founded in 1976, CCID focuses specifically on internationalization experiences and opportunities at community, technical, and vocational institutions across the world. With members in the United States, Canada, China, Denmark, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, this organization connects countless students to a world outside their own. So, what role does Gazelle International play at CCID? We serve as one of the organization’s outreach partners that functions as a conduit for connecting institutions across the world through virtual exchange.
This year, I will be participating in CCID’s faculty forum along with Mathilde Svab, our long-time collaborator at Université Paris-Saclay, to discuss the ways in which Gazelle continues to provide internationalization experiences to countless community college students across the world. This semester alone, we have 240 students (and counting!) working on CLICK projects guided by our teaching partners. In my presentation “Why Pick CLICK? Virtual Exchange and International Education in Community Colleges,” I’ll be talking about exactly why our CLICK program is the right fit for your first foray into virtual exchange. Mathilde’s presentation “Co-teaching: When Complementary Teachers Enhance the Virtual Exchange Experience” highlights the importance of forming compatible teaching partnerships in her work with CLICK. Nancy, our fearless leader here at Gazelle, will be joined by Université de Lorraine partners Nathalie Fick and Jerome Diguet for their presentation “Re-Starting Bigger/Better? Université de Lorraine Internationalization Blends Mobility with CLICK/Virtual Exchange.” We’ll report in from our weekend in New Orleans from Friday, March 4 - Monday, March 7, so stay tuned!
With CCID’s conference approaching, we wanted to highlight a few reasons why we focus on community college internationalization here at Gazelle International. Study abroad programs are often a major draw for students attending four-year higher ed institutions, but many programs end up excluding more students than they include. This is especially the case at community colleges, where students experience added barriers to participation in traditional study abroad experiences. According to the Institute of International Education (2019) and the American Association of Community Colleges (2020), only 7,427 community college students studied abroad during 2017-2018. That makes up less than half of one percent of all U.S. students who studied abroad that academic year. But what factors contribute to these statistics and why aren’t community college students studying abroad at the same rate as their counterparts at four-year institutions? Three major factors serve as barriers to access including work responsibilities, care-giving responsibilities, and lack of access to funding. For students with demanding work schedules, family commitments, and financial strain, few will derive the benefits of an international education experience.
That’s where we come in! Gazelle International’s CLICK program specializes in bringing study abroad to students and facilitates international virtual exchange experiences from their very own classrooms. CLICK projects are embedded in existing college courses, so students don’t pay any additional fees. Projects take place during class time and count for course credit, so any time commitments are already factored in to the course schedule and workload. By providing teachers with the tools to design unique project-based learning experiences for their classes, CLICK assists in providing students with the knowledge from the existing course as well as all the added benefits that come with a collaborative global project. Teachers often list acquisition of 21st century global skills as a prime CLICK project goal. Virtual exchange promotes exactly that, enhancing intercultural competency, exposure to a variety of global workplace technologies, and experience working in international teams. Think CLICK might be right for you? Learn more about our programs here!