The benefits of the Faculty-Led Classroom Abroad

Durham College does an exceptional job when it comes to hands-on learning experiences for students. From the music business management program putting on Oshawa Music Week to the Media, Art and Design (MAD) 48-hour film challenge, and the new spa that just opened, these opportunities give students the chance to put what they learn in the classroom into action.

Durham College also offers Faculty-Led Classrooms Abroad. These experiences give students the opportunity to go abroad and learn their curriculum in another culture with a faculty member. Some students are fearful because of how different and uncomfortable it could be but the experience and outcomes outweigh the challenges.

Durham College has had multiple classroom abroad trips, including Peru, Brazil, Ireland and Guatemala. With all these opportunities, students get the chance to learn more about intercultural competencies, are able to find a new commitment and appreciation for learning as well as experience personal growth and professionalism.

Some may believe all of these things can be learned over time in a classroom setting and while that is true, these classroom abroad trips give students an accelerated learning experience.

Just recently, seven students from Durham College’s journalism mass-media program and two students from the video production program went to Guatemala for ten days to take part in a Faculty-Led Classroom Abroad. They all learned and experienced more than they would be able to in a regular classroom setting. The trip gave students the chance to be immersed in a new culture and a different way of life with different values and beliefs.

While on these trips, students are able to find a new appreciation for learning. They are able to use what they learn immediately in the field which leads them to learn more, not only about their jobs, but about themselves.

Being given the chance to put what they learned in a classroom setting in action, often pushes students out of their comfort zone. This gives students a real-world learning experience they wouldn’t get in a classroom.

For the most recent classroom abroad in Guatemala, classroom learning about climate change which started with a field trip to the Central Lake Ontario Conservation (CLOCA) in Oshawa, continued in another country. Students were able to learn that people in Guatemala are struggling with their crops due to the dry weather, which leads to an unreliable source of income for their families. This was tied into a Global Classroom from Guatemala back home to Durham College to talk about the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals.

While in Guatemala, journalism and videography students ran digital storytelling workshops in small communities and learned how telling stories can make a positive change and impact. This is an experience the students couldn’t have gotten in a classroom.

The Faculty-Led Classroom Abroad gives students an opportunity to see situations with a new perspective. Studying in another country allows students to meet new people and learn from them but it is also an opportunity for the students to learn a lot about themselves.

While the concept of a Faculty Led Classroom Abroad is something frightening to some people, the benefits to the students and faculty who go, and everyone they meet when they are there, is the most rewarding thing in itself. Students come back from these trips inspired and more knowledgeable than they were before.