[This is posted on behalf of Averett alumna Sydney Glass, who graduated from Averett with a double major in Biology and Modern Languages. As an undergraduate, Sydney spent a semester in Sevilla with Averett Study Abroad partner ISA. In this post she gives her perspective on the impact of studying abroad.]
I graduated from Averett University in May 2018 and am attending George Mason University for my Master of Public Health (MPH) with a Global Health concentration. Currently, I am working as a Graduate Professional Assistant for Graduate Student Engagement in the Office of Graduate Student Life. I can say without a doubt that my experiences with the Study Abroad Office at Averett, both as a student and peer advisor, have positively influenced the way that I interact with and consider the needs of all graduate students at Mason. More importantly, I believe that it has enriched my perspective and will make me a better public health professional in the future. Having the opportunity to study abroad in Spain for a semester not only sparked my love for travel but also increased my cultural humility. In addition, working as a peer advisor through the International Studies Abroad (ISA) program showed me the importance of international education and viewing the world through many lenses.
Recently, I traveled to Xela, Guatemala with the Alternative Break program at Mason for my 2019 Spring Break where I learned about the indigenous people, their culture, and the social injustices that they face. While there, we volunteered at an elementary school in which we helped beautify the outdoor space and spent time playing with and getting to know the students. This was a special experience for me as I also had the opportunity to conduct focus groups with the teachers to learn how we could enhance the work that they do and the lives of their students. Although the focus of the trip was service-learning, we were able to spend several days in the beautiful city of Antigua and see the most amazing views from Lake Atitlán. This was truly a wonderful trip that allowed me to build relationships with both my Mason peers and the Xela community, leaving me with a lifetime of memories. While my experiences with the Study Abroad Office have taught me many things, the one thing that has stuck with me is that some of the most important lessons will come from experiences outside of the classroom. For this reason, I try to take advantage of every opportunity that I have to travel to other parts of the world and encourage others to do the same!