Adventurous Students Discover Distant Locales

El Vaquero Staff Writer

What student would not what want to journey to an unknown, exciting land, and receive college credit simultaneously?

In the Study Abroad program, available to students with wanderlust and a GPA of 2.0 or better, the dream can come true.

Professors Ted Stern and Andrea Rusnock led a group of curious and adventurous students on a trip to Prague during the June 2002 summer session.

Daniella Davies, 18, said of the trip: “It was a wonderful, positive experience. I feel changed by the trip. Ted stern and Jiri Holub [a Czech teacher who participated] are two of the most well-educated men I have ever met in my life. They also helped us when we needed to take subways – practical things.

“They knew how to deal with people. Hometown life is more important to the Czech people; they are more relaxed. I loved the 13th century monuments and architecture. If I could have stayed I would have.”

Oscar Gualdoni, 73, and his wife Mercedes enrolled so that they could accompany other GCC students to Prague.

“Half of them [students on the trip] were of the older generation, the other half were younger,” said Gualdoni.

“It was interesting because of the diverse nationalities attending. I was born in Italy, and some of the others were of Asian and Hispanic origin,” said Gualdoni.

Carolyn Payne, assistant to Executive Vice President of Instructional Services Steve White said that GCC contracted Jiri Holub from Charles University to lecture daily on the political and historical aspects of Prague’s history.

Holub was chosen as a guest lecturer because of his extensive knowledge of the fall of communism and the rebirth of democracy in the Czech Republic.

Before the study trips, students meet for classes on campus, and are presented with orientations by the tour operators. During this time students have an opportunity to discuss safety issues and other travel details with both the instructors and contractors.

“It is a beautiful city. All 18 students seemed to enjoy it. It was a chance for people to see a part of the world they had never seen before,” said Ted Stern, GCC music professor and the program director for Prague.

“The students realized how different it is from life in the U.S. For instance, the average person there earns $450 per month. They got to see how cooperative people were concerning social issues such as unemployment, health care, social and political agendas.

Most students were impressed with the public transportation system in the Czech Republic in comparison to the U.S.

Michael Moreau, a journalism and English instructor, directed the trip to Prague and Vienna two years ago.
“It’s a great way to travel and get credit for classes simultaneously,” Moreau said. “The classes are transferable. Most people have fun. You have a lot of time to explore.”

GCC’s director of Study Abroad Jose Mercade pointed out the advantages.

“First, you are immersed in foreign culture and you really learn how people in other countries perceive us,” Mercade said.

“Daily contact with them also helps us learn subjects which are academically related to the country visited. You live and learn in a community of students and teachers for an extended period. Your eyes are opened to other parts of the world; it broadens your education.

“For many years, going abroad has been a hallmark of fine education. In the past, it was only for the elite. Now it is available to every student.”

Mercade emphasized the fact that the program helps us to understand and adapt to an increasingly complex world, and that global peace now rests more than ever on mutual understanding among nations.
Moreau will direct a trip to England and Scotland in the summer of 2003.

He will teach English 116, Introduction to Drama, and Mary Jane Atkins, also an English instructor, will teach English 111, Women in Literature.

Participants will leave on July 25 and return on Aug. 23.

Trips to Ireland and Austria are also offered.
For more information, call ext. 5515.