Learning to adapt and overcome challenges are central competencies that can be learned through studying abroad, and 2020 has spurred a need for even more creativity and flexibility within the field. Given that travel restrictions have limited in-person experiences for students and institutions over the past nine months, virtual project-based programs have become increasingly present with opportunities for students to still connect around the world and develop global competencies in an innovative and resourceful way.
Officially recognized as Virtual Global Experiences, and through a combined effort with all education abroad offices across campus, ACES students have been able to engage with worldwide partners in research, internships, and coursework.
Many of the international providers offering Virtual Global Experiences are versatile based on student academic and professional interests, and are focused around career-relevant internships with global startups, international businesses, nonprofits, NGOs, public health initiatives, and service-learning community programs. These programs are based in Austria, Brazil, South Africa, throughout the Southeastern hemisphere, and around the globe.
This fall, Julee Hu, an agricultural and consumer economics major, has been able to participate in a Virtual Global Experience with VACorps, an international partner in Cape Town, South Africa. Through VACorps, Julee has been interning with a tech startup firm called Prim-U. Julee is currently responsible for creating an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the company. “I chose this internship because the director was very flexible, and open-minded to my tight schedule, and allowed me the opportunity to work on projects at my own pace,” says Julee.
One of the most meaningful experiences for Julee has been the chance to make a strong connection with the director from day one. With the opportunity to still build global networks and contribute to meaningful projects amidst a worldwide pandemic, Julee mentions that, “This journey has benefited my professional development because I was able to learn about crowdfunding and take full responsibility to create a campaign of my own for the company.”
VACorps also builds in weekly cultural sessions to supplement student internships. Even when students are not physically in the same country, this offers a chance to gain a better understanding of the customs, history, and values in South Africa.
Learn more about how students can apply for Virtual Global Experiences here.
Article submitted by Gregory French, Outbound Study Abroad Advisor, College of ACES