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Studying, teaching abroad broadens perspectives
When considering studying abroad, students may think it is more like a vacation. But studying abroad is much more than that — it can be an eye-opening, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For Southeast senior Emma Delapp — who went to Chile for student teaching in the fall of 2019 — her time abroad not only helped her learn how to communicate with people who speak other languages, but how to analyze situations she has not been in before.
“It helped me become able to talk to other people,” Delapp said. “When we were [in Chile], nobody really spoke English, so we had to find different resources to help us communicate with other people.”
Southeast alumna Bailey Bliss is currently teaching in El Salvador but never had a chance to study abroad while at Southeast. Bliss said she believes studying abroad can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I think getting out of your comfort zone, meeting new people and experiencing a life and culture different from your own is always beneficial,” Bliss said. “I've learned to put a lot of things in perspective since moving away from [Cape Girardeau].”
Bliss also said her time in El Salvador has helped her recognize that stereotypes about other cultures can be entirely false.
“I live in El Salvador, which the news likes to portray as a gang-controlled country with only starving people who want to escape to the U.S.,” Bliss said. “Yet, there are three Starbucks within a five-mile radius of me, and I have students with lake houses, beach houses and even a few helicopters.”
Studying abroad not only grants students an opportunity to explore a new country, but also gives them the chance to sharpen problem-solving skills.
Southeast seniors Alana Basham and Nicole Petrillo are both preparing to head to Chile in April to student teach for a month. They both have a desire to study abroad to learn how to communicate with English as a second language (ESL) students and benefit the students and themselves, as well.
“I want to have a better understanding of how an ESL student in my classroom will feel,” Petrillo said. “I don’t know any Spanish, so when I have a Spanish-speaking student come into my classroom that doesn’t speak any English, I don’t know how they feel or how to help them.”
Basham added, “I feel like we live in a world where our classrooms are so diverse, and even just understanding the culture of other kids that might come into our classroom will help us become better teachers.”
Southeast has study abroad programs in 35 different countries. These programs range from short-term (one to two weeks) to semester-long exchanges, as well as internship and student teaching opportunities. To learn more, visit www.semo.edu/studyabroad.