Study abroad starts with Paris trip

Hastings College’s study abroad pilot program will launch this January during the final year of the J-Term session. Dr. Amy Black, professor of economics; Dr. Travis Feezell, president of HC; Dr. John Perlich, professor of communication studies; and Grant Hunter, director of international programs, will take 60 students to Paris. HC formed a partnership with ICD, the international business school of the International Graduate School (IGS) Group, opening up more study abroad opportunities for second-year students with a 10 to 14-day trip to collaborate with faculty and students and explore the city of Paris, France.

As part of the creation of this J-Term trip, Black, Feezell, Perlich and Hunter traveled to Paris to organize the itineraries for each of their classes, as well as to create new contacts within the businesses and school.

“We met with our partner institution, ICD Paris, to hang out with their faculty, scheme and prepare logistics and events and planning for our students to go experience,” Hunter said. “We are definitely approaching this experience in partnership with this school, so we wanted to have the availability and options to collaborate with their faculty there. And we were really depending on their network of contacts in Paris to create the events for the students.”

During this trip, the faculty and staff also looked at how this trip would be perceived by students.

“During our entire visit, I viewed everything that we encountered through the eyes of a 20-year-old student who had never been out of the country,” Perlich said. “I actively looked for risks, obstacles and concerns for an international student. I’m delighted to say that after this visit, all of my questions and concerns have been answered. The accommodations that have been arranged are terrific. The students will feel safe, yet simultaneously immersed in the culture. It’s going to be an unbelievable opportunity.”

As president, Feezell also has additional goals for study abroad trips.

“On this most recent trip (and in trips to come), I continue to work on partnerships for exchange opportunities for both students and faculty. I continue to want to build as many opportunities to study abroad for our students.”

Feezell’s class, Sports and Culture, will include visits with athletic organizations as the focus of the class.

“The basic idea is that sports is often reflective of a very specific national culture; the way sports get organized and the ways in which games are played becomes quite representative of the place. The way into this is often to visit specific sport sites and to visit with the organizers and players of sport,” Feezell said. “So to that end, we will likely be visiting sites like the National Tennis Federation (Roland Garros), as well as the training sites for the national soccer team. We also hope to visit with people who are at the forefront of the organizing movement for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, which will be hosted in Paris.”

On the trip, Perlich’s class, Intercultural Communication, will apply the academic portion of the class that they have before leaving. “The trip will be an application of materials that we’ve covered prior to departure. We’ve planned guest speakers, service opportunities, collaborative work with their professors,” Perlich said.

Black’s class, International Business, will also include visits to various places in Paris, with a focus on different types of businesses.

“I would like to visit businesses in agriculture, manufacturing and services, so we talked about what would be the best options for those sorts of visits in Paris. Agriculture is kind of a long shot because it’s January, and not a lot goes on right in Paris, so I don’t know about that one, but I think we will have some great ideas for both manufacturing and services visits,” Black said. “I’ll also be looking at how many students go on to study abroad like for a semester after this experience. We have connections with Paris and Lyon, so we’re hoping some of these students will decide, ‘Oh that was pretty cool; I can do that; I want to go for a whole semester.’”

This J-Term trip is part of a larger institutional change within HC. It was confirmed last May that all second-year students will be given the opportunity to study abroad as part of their academic learning at HC. The success will determine how HC moves forward in planning and preparation for future study abroad opportunities, as well as bringing more international students to HC.

“As we approach and we look at, critically, the new curriculum and calendar, we are looking at more opportunities for students to go get those experiences, maybe abroad, maybe in New York City or L.A. or wherever it may be,” Hunter said. “It’s not only about taking students abroad, but we’re hoping that students at this school in Paris and Lyon will want to have the opportunity to come experience what Hastings College is all about.”