Busy Completing Your College Degree? Travel Abroad Can Help

Approaching the finish line on completing a college degree, students often struggle to pick up a class here or an internship there. Between the need to graduate on time and summer jobs, travel abroad for a whole semester is not realistic for many. Now, a new alternative promises to give students that same international experience in a program that fits their timetable.

People to People Ambassador Programs has sent over half a million students in grades 5-12 abroad. Now, with an eye on college level students, the nationally recognized travel provider has created a suite of college level programs that focus on volunteerism and service, cultural immersion and adventure.

The two to three-week programs include a heavy focus in developing the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) of students who earn upper division college credit in what seems to be an increasing need.

“We have seen heightened interest from students and parents in the past couple of years to extend our product line into the university domain to continue that experiential learning track,” Peg Thomas, president of People to People, said in a statement.Accompanied by specially selected leaders from various colleges and universities, the organization promises that students will leave the program with an enhanced global perspective poised to enter the work force with a competitive edge.

“A two- to three-week educational trip with People to People Ambassador Programs increases CQ as much as a full semester of study abroad from an Ivy League school,” boasts People to People on its website.

The inaugural college study abroad program took students to India in December 2012 experiencing diverse cultures and visited iconic monuments such as the Taj Mahal and Jama Masjid Mosque. Upcoming trips will take students to India, Japan, Vietnam and Antarctica.

People to People Ambassador Programs is the exclusive educational travel provider of People to People International (PTPI), a nonprofit organization founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to promote peace through understanding worldwide.

[Photo credit – Flickr user Thompson Rivers]

Student Travel Writing Contest Offers $500 For Best Essay Of Student Life Abroad

Are you a student who is aspiring to be a travel writer? Now’s your chance to strut your stuff and perhaps win $500.

Transitions Abroad has announced their 2013 Travel Writing Contest. It’s billed as “the only student travel writing contest to cover studying, working, interning, volunteering and living abroad.”

The contest is open to all “currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students, students who have graduated within the past year, and students currently on leave from school.” The judges want to see essays of 1,000-2,000 words that offer solid advice for adjusting to student life overseas. Check out their guidelines carefully before putting pen to paper.

First prize is $500; second prize is $150; third prize is $100; and runners-up get $50. All get published in “Transitions Abroad” print and webzine. Deadline is April 15.

It’s always a good idea to check out what won in the past. Last year’s winner was “A Foreigner in the Middle Kingdom: Living, Working, and Studying in China.” My personal favorite was the practical and insightful “A High School Summer in Egypt Studying Arabic: Practical Advice and Tips.”

Thanks to the excellent online writing newsletter Writing World for bringing this to my attention. Check out their site for tons of free advice of value to aspiring and experienced writers.

[Photo courtesy Sarah Rose]

National Geographic announces photo contest for students

Earlier this week, National Geographic launched their first ever Student Photo Contest by inviting high school students to submit a photo that they think best captures the essence of exploration. Entrants into the competition will be competing to win a trip on a Nat Geo Student Expedition later this summer.

Aspiring shutterbugs are encouraged to comb through their photo library to find up to five images that they wish to enter into the contest. Then they simply visit the submissions page where they’ll be asked to upload the photos and write a brief 100-word description of each image and how it defines exploration for them. Once that step is complete, they’ll be able to share their photos online with friends and family as well.

The winning image will earn the photographer an all expense paid trip to London to attend this summer’s London Photography Workshop. That 12-day program will allow students to hone their skills while learning from one of National Geographic’s top photographers. Mornings are spent in the classroom studying new techniques, while afternoons are spent out in the field where they’ll be able to put their newfound skills to the test. The trip is valued at approximately $6500 and is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a lucky photographer of any age.

The photo contest is open to U.S. residents who are currently in grades 9-12. Submissions are being accepted through April 1st with a winner being notified via email by April 16. For more information, including the official rules, click here.

Students travel to Japan, help recovery efforts

Travel to Japan was disrupted last year when a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11. The disaster brought an alarming death toll, fear of nuclear explosion and travel alerts cancelling hundreds of flights and stranding tens of thousands of travelers. But that disaster also elicited enormous response from people all over the world who pledged their help to the affected area. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, recovery is well under way but there is a lot of work to be done. One of the organizations helping in the effort has students traveling to Japan for an immersive foreign travel experience like no other.

People to People Ambassador Group will be sending over 100 students to Japan in July for the first time since the devastation. These students were so committed to traveling to Japan that they’ve waited a full year to be able to make this trip.

People to People’s Spirit of Japan program puts student ambassadors in the heart of Japan, on an immersive itinerary that provides an immersion in a rural Japanese community where students will work at local schools and farms in the ravaged Tohoku area. The idea is to lend a hand to a host community, providing much needed help doing everything from assisting farmers in clearing their fields to teaching local students English. Working side by side with local citizens during a home stay with a Japanese family is part of the experience as participants offer up close and personal time with those actually affected by the natural disaster.

It is all part of People to People’s mission to get students involved and raise their global awareness with immersive experiential learning through travel.”In our interconnected world, we cannot be isolated-our decisions have an impact on other people, sometimes even those who live half a world away. Global citizens are people who accept a responsibility to others in their local and global community,” says People to People on its website.

Conditions in the affected area were so bad last year that it was unsafe for People to People groups to travel there. Both Narita (NRT) and Haneda airports (HND) which handle international and domestic flights for Tokyo were closed; leaving 14,000 passengers stranded. Sendai airport (SDJ), 300 kilometers to the north, was virtually destroyed by the tsunami.

Many travelers around the world felt the effect of Japan’s airport failures combined with a huge increase in demand for flights into Japan that had a cascading effect on travel. Airports from Canada to London saw delayed flights as the U.S. issued a travel alert urging U.S. citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Japan.

Here, some of the survivors look back-

Image provided by People to People

5 student travel programs that are hiring this summer

Want to get out of town this summer? Leading a student travel program may just be your ticket. The requirements vary from program to program, but often include foreign language proficiency, in-country experience, previous work with adolescents, a keen sense of adventure, and a whole lot of patience.

There are dozens of programs out there, but this list is a good place to start. Plus, we know they’re looking for summer leaders.

People to People
The Program: Founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1965, People to People’s mission is to promote cultural understanding and world peace among middle and high school students. Programs focus on cultural exploration, leadership, and sports.
Cool Itineraries: Road to the Himalayas in India, South African Adventure, Modern and Ancient Civilizations in Italy, Sicily, and Greece.
Leader Requirements: Teacher leaders must be 21 or older, with preference given to educators and students majoring in education.
How to Apply: Step one is to create an account on Compass, P2P’s leader hub. You’ll then need to complete an online application, which takes around 30 minutes.Putney Student Travel
The Program: Geared toward high school students, Putney Student Travel’s summer trip offerings emphasize education and cultural engagement. Trip themes include community service, cultural exploration, global awareness in action, language learning, and summer school. Putney also coordinates National Geographic Student Expeditions, which include explorational expeditions, field workshops in subjects like photography, and community service projects.
Cool Itineraries: Cultural Exploration at Kilimanjaro, Community Service in Ecuador and the Galapagos, Excel educational courses at Oxford and in Tuscany.
Leader Requirements: They vary from program to program, but generally include a college degree, relevant language proficiency, and travel experience in the target country/ies. The program is selective, and reading through former leader profiles can help you get a sense for whether you’d be a good fit.
How to Apply: Complete the online application and upload your cover letter and CV. Putney starts accepting leader applications for summer employment each December, and interviews are held between January and April.
Note: I previously led for this program, and it was awesome.

Travel for Teens
The Program: TFT offers a wide array of trips focusing on cultural exploration, language learning, and community service, as well as a number of “specialty” trips that involve activities like photography and surfing.
Cool Itineraries: Fiji Service and Adventure, Language in Paris and the South of France, Thailand Photography.
Leader Requirements: Leaders must be least 21 years of age; commit to at least two summers; have experience working with teenagers, particularly in a camp environment; have experience living, traveling, or working in the target country/ies; and possess foreign language fluency, particularly in Spanish, Italian, French, Mandarin, Thai, and German.
How to Apply: Complete the online application and upload your CV and a photo.

Westcoast Connection
The Program: Specializing in “teen tours”, community service programs, language learning, pre-college enrichment, and family adventure trips, Westcoast Connection focuses on both personal and group experiences, with an emphasis on fun.
Cool Itineraries: Major League Baseball Madness Tour across the East Coast, Midwest, and California; Israel Experience; Global Adventure in China.
Leader Requirements: There aren’t any concrete requirements for employment, but Westcoast emphasizes teamwork as a key leader attribute. Available positions include Trip Director, Food Director, and Trip Leader/Specialist.
How to Apply: Complete the online application.

Where There Be Dragons
The Program: With longer itineraries than most of the other programs, Where There Be Dragons emphasizes immersion in physical and cultural landscapes through experiential education, active pursuits, service learning, and language programs. Youth Programs are focused in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Cool Itineraries: Cambodia: Studies in Development and Peace, Jordan: Arabic Languages and Cultures, Senegal: The Warm Embrace of West Africa
Leader Requirements: The ideal applicant has unique in-country experience, relevant foreign language skills, experience leading groups and/or working with teens, dedication to education, experience in a relevant field, and a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician certification.
How to Apply: Complete the online application and upload your CV.

[image via Putney Student Travel]