June 8th, 2018
This May, RIT Croatia Dubrovnik welcomed a group of RIT students and parents who came to explore Croatia and learn more about our country. „This program was a one-week, hands-on, learning abroad experience for RIT students and family members," says Chelsea Petree, Ph.D—Director of Parent & Family Programs, who led the group together with Rick Lagiewski, Ph.D—Assistant Professor in Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Jim Myers, Ph.D—Associate Provost of International Education and Global Programs.
While the idea and planning of the trip was initiated by the Parent & Family Programs, it was organized in collaboration with the RIT Global Office, the Center of Leadership and Civic Engagement, and RIT Croatia.
Explore Croatia is an opportunity for RIT students and their parents to study abroad together as a family. „This trip expands our strategic goal to create global citizens of our students to parents—important members of the RIT community and some of our students’ greatest supports. Including family members in an international experience encourages continued cultural growth as our families return with a shared experience, allowing them to integrate what they’ve learned in everyday life.", says Petree.
This program was created with the aim to encourage global mindedness, support study abroad, and provide RIT students and parents the opportunity to experience the world as a family. The primary goal was to provide an educational global opportunity for parents and students, opening participants’ minds to global experiences internationally, on campus, and in their communities.
„I greatly enjoyed the Croatian experience," said Doug Young, one of the parents in the group. „There is so much history in this part of world and it was awesome to learn about some of it. We hear about Italy and France but we don't hear much about the Slavic part of the Adriatic coast, so it was very educational. More people need to hear about Croatia and its role in the world. I came away with so much respect for these people."
This was the first time RIT offered a family study abroad trip at RIT. An excellent example of cross-campus and cross-culture collaboration, it resulted in an all around RIT experience. Incorporating parents in this experience has a number of benefits, including giving families a shared experience, increasing parents’ understanding of the benefits of study abroad (thus increasing support of study abroad programs), and providing parents with an experience that they may have never had the opportunity to have themselves.
Eliza McCarthy is an RIT student who participated in this program with her mom: "Instead of sending photos to my mom and calling her to tell her about my amazing trip, I could experience it all with her. I have always dreamed of going to Croatia, so when I found out that RIT had a campus there, I knew this would be the opportunity. What made it even better was not only could I visit this beautiful country with other RIT students, but I could experience it with my mother. Without RIT Parent & Family Programs, we would have never had the opportunity to make this dream come true.”
As intended, this trip included elements that made it feel like a true study abroad experience. It included lessons on the breakup of Yugoslavia and how the war impacted Dubrovnik and surrounding areas, visiting islands, a local winery, and a family-owned sea-to-table restaurant, sharing a homemade traditional Croatian meal with a local family, and learning the role RIT plays in higher education in Croatia.
"Being in a learning environment with my family was a great experience. I enjoyed watching my daughter ask questions and learning about the many new experiences.” said Robert Salony, RIT parent
Mary Codick, also one of the parents never had the chance to study abroad so this seemed like a great idea: „This was a great experience for me while my daughter explored it as an option for herself. It is also a little scary to think of your child so far away in a strange place, especially if you have never done such a thing yourself. Now it does not seem like a strange place, but a place my daughter will call home for a short time and a place I look forward to visiting again.”
„Hearing from our participants during and following the trip, I believe all of the set goals were met with the Explore Croatia trip. The trip was successful in all ways and I am looking forward to providing the opportunity to more RIT families in the future." said Chelsea Petree. Not only that, but both parents and students were so happy with the overall experience that all of them said they would recommend it.
Increasing global experiences for students is part of RIT’s strategic plan. While RIT is not the only university with a focus on global programs, it is the only one that provides a study abroad opportunity for students with their family members, making it a unique and groundbreaking program.
"I think RIT has many global opportunities for students." said Mary Codick: „With our increasingly global economy and diversifying populations, it is so important for students to have a perspective outside of their own, and first-hand experiences in other places with different people is a great way to gain that perspective. A broader perspective will help students tremendously in the future, whether they are shaping policy, conducting business, or building technology for and with others.”
Emily Young, 2018 RIT graduate, would like to repeat this experience: "If there were more trips like this in the future I would definitely make an effort to attend. This trip did impact that.”
So what else can we say but: thank you and we are looking forward to seeing you again!
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