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February 19, 2008
By Guia Del Prado
Faculty members and University employees have the opportunity to travel and study abroad through the University Studies Abroad Consortium Faculty International Development Awards (FIDA) this summer. The awardees will join students and share in their experiences of studying abroad.
“The FIDA was developed eight years ago for faculty members and administrators who have no experience in international travel or exposure to the USAC program,” said Kelly Corrigan, Marketing and University Relations Director for USAC.
FIDA was also designed so that recipients could bring their experiences back home and to their professions.
“It’s a way to bring an international component back to the University,” Corrigan said. “They’re getting a chance to see what study abroad at Nevada means and what it can do for faculty and students. They can bring it back firsthand to what they do on campus.”
Recipients of the award go through the same processes the students enrolled in the program. Recipients must also attend classes with the students, live in similar housing as other students, such as home stays, apartments or dorms. They can also travel on the planned field trips with them.
The only difference between FIDA recipient experience and the students’ experiences is that recipients have the option of auditing their classes, which means they don’t have to receive a grade.
Robyn Davis, coordinator of advising, recruitment and retention for the College of Business, is one of the recipients for this year’s FIDA for Bilbao, Spain. She looks forward to her trip abroad, which will be her first time out of the country.
Apart from her excitement to see the city of Bilbao and its museums, Davis also sees the value of the experience she garners while in the program and how she can use it to enhance her skills with students.
“I work with so many students who want to complete a USAC trip or are considering it,” Davis said. “When I return from Bilbao, I will have a better understanding of the USAC process and will have a personal experience of how exciting it can be.”
Nancy Markee, director of the advising center and coordinator of undergraduate advising, stayed for six weeks in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, in summer 2007. She hoped for an experience that would be close to that of the students.
“I chose to do a home stay and had a host mom,” Markee said. “I took classes but I audited them, and that way I was actually able to take more classes.”
Markee took weekly field trips and even went on trips on her own. The entire experience for Markee was an eye-opener. Since learning how to speak Spanish in her classes at Puntarenas, she continues to hone her Spanish skills and is considering teaching a class for one of the USAC programs.
“It was just an incredible experience,” Markee said. “It forces you out of your comfort zone.”
Apart from Markee’s adventures in the Costa Rican jungles, she values the FIDA program as a professional and in her dealings with students. Many students she advises have several questions about USAC that Markee wasn’t able to answer before her trip abroad.
“I think it provides me with a different perspective about what study abroad is all about,” Markee said. “I had that firsthand experience.”