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A shared destination. A unique path to get there.

The ultimate destination may be graduation, but Ecampus students know the value of the stops along the way

The study abroad group holds up an OSU banner at the University of the Fraser Valley, pictured with a small class of students from the university. Adrianna is seated in the center of the front row.

Oregon State students met with a class at British Columbia’s University of the Fraser Valley, where they compared current events in Canada and the United States. “We talked to a lot of different stakeholders in Vancouver. My degree has an emphasis in behavioral sciences – things like ecology, sociology and anthropology – so our discussions really cemented what I learned about in school and brought it to a real-life setting,” says Ecampus student Adrianna Gordon (pictured above, seated in the center of the front row).

By Julie Cooper
June 11, 2018

Whether they’re at home, commuting to work or crossing the globe, Oregon State Ecampus students are able to pick up their classroom and carry it with them to the next adventure.

So when Adrianna Gordon received an email from her academic advisor about a faculty-led study abroad trip to Vancouver, Canada, she was ready to pack her bags.

The trip is hosted by the Office of Global Opportunities and led by sociology instructors Dwaine Plaza and Lauren Plaza. It offers an interdisciplinary opportunity for Oregon State students to study Canadian economy, society, politics and culture.

Both Dwaine and Lauren actively recruit online students for this experiential learning opportunity, creating access for all types of learners.

From her home in Modesto, California, Adrianna communicated back and forth with Dwaine, receiving the support and information she needed as a distance student to successfully apply and prepare. Then during spring break, she joined 12 students from OSU’s Corvallis campus and quickly found connections within the group.

Adrianna sits with others in the group, listening to a speaker and writing notes.

While in Vancouver, the OSU students engaged with relevant readings, discussions, lectures and written reflections to make the most of their learning abroad.

“I was nervous at first, but once we got through introductions, I realized a lot of the other students didn’t really know each other,” Adrianna says. “They all came from different majors and backgrounds, and they were all in different class standings. I ended up blending in just like any other OSU student.”

The days were long and packed with learning. The group visited organizations, art galleries, museums and other sites of cultural and historical interest. There they participated in dialogue around indigenous, immigrant and LGBTQ communities in Vancouver, and social issues such as mental health, homelessness and policing.

One of the most rewarding experiences for Adrianna was meeting with a class from British Columbia’s University of the Fraser Valley to discuss current events in the United States, providing a valuable outside perspective on social issues and policy.

Dwaine says comparative moments like these are a main objective of the trip. They give students an environment where they can not only view the differences and similarities between cultures, but also examine the relationship of the U.S. to other countries.

At the University of Fraser Valley, Dwaine and Lauren, both of whom are from Canada, found that all of the Canadian students they spoke with had visited the U.S., while only two OSU students on the trip had made a prior visit to Canada.

“We could then start having a conversation about power dynamics and who knows what about whom,” Dwaine says. “People who live in the periphery know much more about people who live in the core.”

Though Adrianna has traveled abroad in the past and plans to do so again, she recognizes her trip to Vancouver as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It’s going to be a big part of what I tell people about my Ecampus experience,” she says. “It was very rewarding, and I made some really good friends out of it.”

She plans to meet with some of those new friends once more at the Ecampus graduation celebration this June, when she earns her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with an emphasis in behavioral sciences.

“I’ve gained a greater understanding of a country whose relationship with the United States is very important,” she says. “I learned a lot about myself and how I interact with other people. It really made me feel like I’m capable of more.”

Julie Cooper is a student marketing writer for Oregon State Ecampus.

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