Big Changes Coming to Study Abroad and Global Experiences

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Big changes are coming to the Study Abroad and Global Experience (SAGE) program, including significant curriculum internationalization options for students, the addition of virtual study abroad opportunities and a restart of student travel, albeit modestly, for the 2021-2022 academic year, among many others.

“While the pandemic has presented challenges for the Study Abroad Office due to the restriction of student mobility and the cancellation of our study abroad travel, this year also opened up opportunity to expand our at-home global programming and to venture into virtual experiences,” said Lindi Kourtellis, manager, study abroad programs. “Our team has made great efforts to continue to offer students global learning moments and cultural events during the pandemic.”

The SAGE office has made the following changes and is offering the following opportunities available for students and employees:

Study Abroad

After faculty-led and semester Study Abroad programs were canceled for all of 2020 and 2021, SAGE is happy to announce that it expects travel will resume in spring and summer of 2022, although in a more limited fashion. SAGE will prioritize working with faculty members who had international class trips canceled in 2020 and 2021 as well as faculty who have in-depth experience leading study abroad programs. The office will gradually move forward in its efforts to reinstate international travel experiences for students and faculty, which it expects to accomplish fully by 2023.

SAGE routinely follows official guidelines and recommendations for travel. All travel restrictions and in-destination conditions for COVID-19 will be evaluated 90 days prior to departure to ensure the health and safety of faculty and students.

Internationalizing the Curriculum

Although the pandemic had a significant impact on the College, SAGE has made great strides this year in its effort to internationalize the curriculum and bring students enriching international experiences in a virtual setting. Read about new and expanded programs available to students below:

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)

COIL is a virtual exchange program that connects classrooms of two or more higher education institutions located in different countries and cultural settings. Faculty work together to develop a shared syllabus, emphasizing experiential and collaborative student learning. Currently, Valencia College has such a relationship with Koning Willem I College (KWIC) in the Netherlands — you can read about a recent collaboration here — but SAGE is currently seeking to expand these opportunities with other institutions. Faculty members are encouraged to contact SAGE if they wish to embed this learning experience in their courses or if they have an institution in mind they would like to partner with.

Global Guest Speakers

We know the impact listening to a top industry expert can have on students’ education. This is why SAGE is partnering with faculty to bring in guest speakers from around the world. In February, SAGE will feature three Global Guest Speakers during its second annual National Study Abroad Celebration. Speakers will expound on a variety of topics, ranging from business and technology to international public health and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), among many others. Additional global guest speaker sessions focusing on nutrition and food in Italy will be available in March 2021. It’s important to note that faculty can request to connect with a global speaker all year round to enrich their curriculum and are encouraged to contact the SAGE office with any questions on how to do so.

This academic year, SAGE ran a pilot session of this effort. Along with Jerry Hensel, professor, computer programming and analysis, and Heith Hennel, professor, information technology, the office coordinated to bring Babar Jan-Haleem, a data and technology expert, to Valencia students virtually for an engaging interactive session. You can read about that session here. We hope this inspires you to bring in a global guest speaker into your classroom.

National Study Abroad Celebration, Monday February 22  Friday, February 26, 2021 

SAGE invites you to attend a weeklong celebration of study abroad and global experiences from Monday February, 22 through Friday, February 26, 2021. In recognition of National Study Abroad Day, SAGE has partnered with the Study Abroad AssociationWorldStrides and Woyago to bring eight engaging and interactive events. During the week, participants can engage in live walking tours of Madrid, Rome and London with local experts. SAGE will also host a live cooking demo from Costa Rica, an interactive session with a guide in India and a presentation from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the organization and its response to global health issues/COVID-19. All Valencia students and employees are welcome to attend. The full calendar of events can be found on Engage and you can also follow events on SAGE’s Instagram. You may download themed Zoom backgrounds to show your spirit during events.

360 Global Learning Experiences Platform

SAGE has partnered with the Study Abroad Association to bring students and faculty virtual study abroad experiences via the 360 Global Learning Experience (GLE). The platform exposes students to virtual international experiences in the midst of the pandemic; and faculty are encouraged to consider embedding it in their courses. Experiences are self-paced and are free to all students, faculty and staff. Participants can sign up for the platform here. A Valencia College email address is required to access the website. Funding for this effort was generously provided by a Valencia College Foundation mini-grant, which allowed subscription access to the platform through the end of 2021.

European Innovation Academy (EIA)

The SAGE Office has opened applications for the 2021 European Innovation Academy. The EIA Global Academy will take place from Friday, July 2 through Friday, July 23, 2021, and will be fully online. Students will be immersed in entrepreneurial experiences and be able to turn ideas into reality, as well as have access to world-class speakers and mentors throughout the program. View the EIA’s webpage to learn more. In addition, the SAGE Office will provide one scholarship this year, which will cover all registration costs (approximately $2,000) for the recipient. Students can apply now through Friday, March 26, 2021. Final submissions with all supporting attachments should be emailed to studyabroad@valenciacollege.eduFor additional information, including application requirements, visit the SAGE website.

Valencia’s Global Distinction Program Has Gone Virtual

SAGE has recently redesigned Valencia’s Global Distinction Program (VGD) to accommodate virtual learners. The office is actively seeking to partner with faculty who are interested in advising a participating student. Please contact SAGE for additional information on how you can help. In the meantime, you can read about how this program can help students gain a global perspective here. Please note the program accepts new students all year round.

For questions on these programs, contact Lindi at or 407-299-5000, extension 1344.

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