Jonathan Jenkins, Staff Writer
College is often seen as a rare opportunity for people to experience firsts. There are first parties, jobs, relationships, etc. One opportunity that many neglect to mention, however, is the chance to go to your first foreign nation. While many universities offer chances to have these experiences, few are as involved as Wingate’s W’international program.
The W’international program was developed at the suggestion of former Wingate President Paul Corts and quickly became a prominent program for Wingate students. According to Wingate’s Director of International Programs, Ms. Jennifer Armentrout, W’international seeks ” to provide international firsthand learning that meaningfully contributes to developing students intercultural knowledge, character development, and independent world views for entry into the global work force.”
This focus on development needs far more than a simple trip overseas to be effective for students. Each W’international program has a class that corresponds with each individual trip. These classes focus on various aspects of each country’s culture by teaching about specific subjects, such as the study of Swedish crime novels for a trip to Sweden. This results in the material discussed in class coming to life for students.
There are many other benefits that students get from these trips, with one of the biggest being international experience. Zach Lewis, a junior that is going on the upcoming spring France trip, wants to use this opportunity to learn and grow. “I picked this trip to France specifically so I could practice my French language skills that I have been acquiring over the last four years,” Lewis stated.
Beyond simply learning and interacting with other cultures, international experience can also help students in pursuing jobs after college. “International experience is ranked high among many employers as a critical asset for prospective employees,” states Wingate’s web page for international studies. “Study abroad shows that you are resourceful, a risk-taker and internationally minded.”
International experience helps students by giving them practical experience in other environments as well. It can introduce them to new languages and ideas and most of all, give them an experience that they will remember forever. However, for most students that are hesitant to sign up, the cost is the deciding factor in their decision.
When asked about the cost, Zach Lewis responded by pointing out that the trips are already heavily discounted. “All of the ‘leg work’ is already taken care of,” Lewis stated. “Then we get to go have a great time in the destination country.”
Some students may be nervous about international travel, but, with the positives that it brings, it is well worth the cost and the effort. “I would tell students ‘on the edge’ of going abroad that the most frequent feedback I receive from adults is that the one thing they wished they had done while in college was study abroad, ” Ms. Armentrout stated.
W’international programs deliver the best opportunity many will have to obtain experience overseas, and with the many benefits that it provides, namely help with future jobs, great memories, and future friends, don’t miss out. You will never regret making a trip overseas.
Edited by Meredith Lalor and Danny Stueber