Transformation through study abroad

Ezgi Gulec, [email protected], Mass Media Film & Video

Each semester Washburn offers various study abroad programs where students get to travel the world to visit and discover new cultures.

Students also engage in community service to help the locals in need. 

Last semester alone, these Ichabods collected over 1,000 pounds of shoes and school supplies to give to the children of Belize.

“The Study Abroad in Belize Program really opened my eyes up to how people around the world live, especially children,” said Ashley Murrell, senior elementary education major. “It broke my heart to witness the situation some children were in, but at the same time it sparked my interest to help make a difference.”

Murrell is one of the many Washburn students who have been transformed by her experience in Belize.

Study abroad programs provide students with a travel experience of a lifetime where they get to learn about a different culture first hand, as well as have the opportunity to do volunteer service.

“I rarely had to share my toys, and these children barely have any toys to share. One moment that made me realize this, is when I was taking my shoes off my own feet to donate to the orphanage. A little girl asked why I was doing this. I told her that I was giving them to her or whoever else needs them. She teared up and gave me a huge hug. Those are the moments that make you realize you went through a transformational experience,” said Brittany Schuman, sophomore elementary education major.

Belize was only one location for study abroad last semester, the shores of Costa Rica was another. Students who traveled to Costa Rica helped the community by taking on construction projects, and distributing food and clothing.

Almost 400 pairs of shoes and several dozen backpacks were handed out to the children. Even after all the hard work, the group still had time to explore Costa Rica with adventures on horseback, boat and van rides to see wildlife.

Nicaragua is home to many lakes and volcanoes. This Jan. 13 study abroad students took a trip to explore this land. While there students learned about the history of Nicaragua as well as working with community leaders to help clean up a community center and preschools. 

“Many of us who went on the trip have been forever changed by our experiences,” said Michaela Saunders, university relations. “Now, back for just three weeks, we’re looking at the world with a different perspective. Some of us are missing the people, the food, the music, and obviously the weather.”

Washburn study abroad programs offer different opportunities for students including exploring different countries and helping in the community.

To find out more information about the programs available contact Tina Williams, the study abroad coordinator, at [email protected] or visit her at the International House.