By Drew Gephart, PCCD International Services Manager
The Study Abroad Program at Peralta Community College District (PCCD) advances international education and assists to provide student access to education worldwide. Since 2012, over 300 students have participated in PCCD’s Study Abroad Program. These students are served by the PCCD Office of International Education, whose mission is to improve student learning by integrating knowledge drawn from real life experiences in other cultures, as well as promoting global awareness.
PCCD has created programs through its four Colleges (Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College) in over 13 countries which includes African American Studies Programs in Belize, Jamaica, Ghana and Cuba; Dance programs in Cuba, Haiti, Ghana and Vietnam; Cosmetology Programs in England (London); Spanish studies in Mexico; Research of El Salvador’s Civil War in El Salvador, Culture in China; and Natural History courses in Iceland, Switzerland and Costa Rica. PCCD has also offered a unique medical Spanish language course in Cuba, which included a joint venture with the Kaiser Permanente medical group, where medical Spanish was taught for Kaiser personnel.
The 2017 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released by the Institute of International Education (IIE) on November 13th, shows that 325,339 U.S. students studied abroad, earning academic credit from their U.S. colleges and universities in 2015/2016, a three percent increase from the prior year. However, only 1 in 10 U.S. undergraduates study abroad before graduating, and only 1.7% of all American students studying abroad come from community colleges.
PCCD’s Office of International Education seeks to increase community college student participation in study abroad programs by hosting an annual Study Abroad Fair where students learn more about opportunities to study abroad. Other initiatives taken to expand student participation in study abroad programs include: the launching of a Study Abroad newsletter for students, the creation of a Study Abroad Facebook page (@PeraltaStudyAbroad), the organization of financial aid workshops for students, professional development presentations for faculty in advising individual students wishing to study abroad, and the introduction of a Study Abroad scholarship to award one student $500 each semester through the Peralta Colleges Foundation.
Additionally, in 2014 PCCD focused on increasing study abroad participation by joining the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative. As part of its commitment to promoting education abroad, PCCD was selected to receive $7,500 to support new Study Abroad scholarships designed to increase the number and diversity of students who study abroad by the end of the decade.
Laney College’s Department of Dance matched the Institute’s funding, to offer a total of six student scholarship awards of $2,500 each. These scholarships were used by students toward the cost of tuition, books, and travel related to Dance Study Abroad in Ghana. PCCD was also awarded two California Colleges for International Education (CCIE) Institutional Grants, one of which was used to create new study abroad materials to increase students’ awareness of study abroad opportunities.
“There is a great need to grow the study abroad program at PCCD. Due to the necessity for international exposure in the global economy, we are working hard so that PCCD students are better situated to be successful in their careers and in lives,” said Drew Gephart, International Services Manager of the Peralta Community College District.
In 2018, PCCD is planning to offer programs to Cuba (Business), Ghana (Dance, Sociology and Communications), Costa Rica (Physical Geography), Germany (Art History), London (Cosmetology), Japan (Business), Mexico (Spanish), Argentina (Spanish) and China (Culture).
To learn more about Peralta’s Study Abroad programs please visit: http://web.peralta.edu/