June 22, 2024
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By Christopher Cook

Students, professors, and alumnae are all encouraging colleges to require travel abroad before graduation. While numerous institutions for higher learning are encouraging students to take time out of their four years in college to explore the world, very few actually require it to graduate from the institution.

Cristian Solis a graduate of the communications program at Catawba College and a former student of Dr. Langhorne, had to opportunity to travel with his French professor to France in the summer of 2018. Solis said “It was a life changing experience. Going to France and experiencing the different things about culture and language that my professor talked about was extremely educational. It brought to life what was being taught in the books.” Starting in January of 2019, Solis will be working as an international flight attendant for American Airlines. For Solis this is a dream job because he is able to use his language and communication skills developed in college.

Photo by Christopher Cook

I was fortunate to speak with Ann Clifton, the assistant director of the Glenn and Addie Ketner Center for International Study at Catawba College. A part of Mrs. Clifton’s duties at the College is to help teachers facilitate and plan trips for their students, and in this role is often able to help lead these trips. Clifton has taken students to Canada, The Bahamas, Costa Rica, Mexico, Greece, and France. This has given her first-hand knowledge of the impact that studying abroad can have on college students.

Mrs. Clifton works hard with the other faculty of Catawba College to give all students the opportunity for a worthwhile and meaningful experience when traveling abroad, through the scholarships offered at the school. When asked if requiring travel abroad for graduation would be a positive change, Clifton answered, “Definitely, a good thing.  As I previously stated students learn a great deal about themselves when they travel abroad and many of them discover new interest.” Clifton even spoke of a way to implement such a requirement at Catawba College, however, changes such as that would be far in the future. However, with the hardworking individuals at the school such as Ann Clifton and Dr. Marie-Odile Langhorne who work tirelessly to provide numerous international educational opportunities, it seems that anything is possible.