A group of Polk State students can now say they have hiked a volcano, kayaked mangroves, and snorkeled the waters of Guadeloupe.
They participated in water-quality experiments with researchers from the University of Antilles and studied terrestrial and aquatic habitats while incorporating ROVs to investigate issues related to plastic contamination.
Most importantly, the 12 students who recently studied abroad on the Lesser Antilles island in the Caribbean gained some very important life skills. They tell it best:
“One of my greatest experiences was hiking the volcano – not only because I had never done that before, but also because it was a challenge that I was able to overcome,” said Jean Woody Luxama. “It showed me that no matter what challenge I face, whether physical, financial, or emotional, I can overcome anything.”
“One of my greatest experiences was hiking the volcano. It showed me that no matter what challenge I face, whether physical, financial, or emotional, I can overcome anything.”
“I experienced things I had never experienced before,” said Andrea Gutierrez. “I made new connections, new friends, and new realizations about myself that wouldn’t have happened without this opportunity. It was a great life experience.”
“It helped us make connections from the classroom to the real world,” said Lauren Garner. “I rediscovered things I had forgotten I had read in a textbook. Being able to see things [science] with my own eyes helped me to never forget it.”
In November, students and professors embarked on the 10-day trip to Guadeloupe, where they immersed themselves in the culture, collaborating with students and professors from the University of Antilles in an ongoing water-quality sampling experiment.
They participated in a handful of activities, from kayaking and snorkeling the waters of Sainte Rose, to hiking through the Basse-Terre rainforest and up the La Grande Soufrière volcano. They also visited the Mémorial ACTe slavery museum, which many students called a highlight of the trip.
The trip was part of Polk State’s 2016 Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative grant award from the Embassy of France – a collaboration between the U.S. Department of State and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development to strengthen ties between the U.S. and France by increasing the number of students traveling abroad from each country.
This was the first group of Polk State students to study abroad in Guadeloupe and they plan to create a documentary about their experiences as an educational tool.
“It is important that you document your stories and keep them with you so that you can use them on your job resumes and in job interviews,” Program Coordinator Kim Simpson told the students in a recent debriefing session. “What you learned – your ability to adapt to new things – will assist you in your future endeavors.”
Watching the students learn and grow in such a short amount of time in Guadeloupe was Professor Kathleen Moran’s favorite part of the trip.
“Adaptability is a skill you can’t necessarily teach in a course but, nevertheless, it is a very crucial life skill that each of these students gained through this experience.”
“Everyone had a little bit of anxiety on the first day, which is expected when going into a new experience,” Moran explained. “Watching each one of them learn how to rely on each other and overcome barriers – cultural and language barriers, and barriers presented by the different terrain – was really special.”
“Adaptability is a skill you can’t necessarily teach in a course,” she added, “but, nevertheless, it is a very crucial life skill that each of these students gained through this experience.”
Polk State’s Study Abroad and Global Studies programs prepare students for the workforce by allowing them to develop life skills employers seek, including adaptability, problem solving, and cross-cultural awareness.
The Global Studies Program is designed to develop students’ subject area knowledge about global issues in diverse academic fields. The courses, study abroad opportunities, lecture series, and other components of the program increase Polk State students’ awareness and understanding of the personal and professional experiences of individuals across the globe. Upon completion of the program, students receive a Global Studies designation on their diploma and a medallion to wear at graduation.
Study abroad prepares students for the workforce by building their life skills and international qualifications. Students who study abroad will develop the skills employers seek, such as cross-cultural awareness and global thinking for problem solving. Polk State joined The Generation Study Abroad 5 Year Initiative to significantly increase the number of students studying abroad. There are many study abroad opportunities available for 2018. Future study abroad trips can be found here. For more information, contact Kim Simpson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863.669.4917.