First passport. First flight on a jet plane. First time visiting a foreign country. First time jumping off a cliff. There were many firsts that student Dominique Gupton experienced on the Craven Community College (CCC) Study Abroad trip to Bundoran, Ireland, this summer. Gupton is a part-time CCC student who works full-time, is a mother of two small children, and wife of fellow CCC student, Zachary Gupton.
“I’ve kept a list of places I’ve always wanted to travel to, and, when my grandmother showed me an article about Craven’s study abroad program, I knew I had to do it,” said Gupton. Her grandmother was a frequent traveler and Gupton always enjoyed her grandmother’s trip stories and photos. According to Gupton and fellow student travelers, the 11 days spent in Ireland were life changing. “I pushed myself into doing and learning new things I never thought I would, and, when I returned, even a co-worker noticed a difference in me,” said Gupton.
Now that Gupton has returned to work and is getting ready for fall semester, she still finds herself daydreaming about her trip to Ireland. She wants to travel to other destinations in Europe, but will definitely return to Ireland with her family. “It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I want to share the amazing culture, history and people of this special place with my husband and kids,” said Gupton. Gupton formed special friendships with her travel roommates and fellow students Michelle Clark, Adriana Corona, Kayla Schliewe and Katherine Wawrzonek. Gupton also has stayed in touch with her Ireland hosts through Facebook.
According to Dr. Cynthia Bellacero, CCC’s chair of social science, humanities and fine art, and Study Abroad program coordinator, “We strive to travel away from the popular tourist itineraries and really immerse students in the local culture,” said Bellacero. Although there are many educational activities, the students also had a lot of fun during the trip. For example, the group surfed and jumped off cliffs into the cold North Atlantic Ocean. In addition to eight students, seven faculty and staff, and 10 members of the community went to Ireland.
As part of the college’s Global Initiatives program, the Study Abroad program consists of a humanities class and a student club. There are pre-trip assignments, language workshops, guest lectures, a service project, and ongoing orientation meetings. After students return, they give a presentation as a final exam for the class. Students apply to the Study Abroad program by written application form, essay, interview, and recommendation letters. Students can also apply for scholarships that may be applied toward tuition and travel costs.
Bellacero and the Study Abroad committee selected Costa Rica as the destination for the summer 2015 trip. For more information about the program, Bellacero at 252-638-7328 or email@example.com.
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.