College of DuPage offers opportunities to study beyond the classroom
|During an international field study trip to Canada this fall, College of DuPage instructor Gib Egge took this photograph of students at Jasper National Park. (Submitted photo)|
When Antonio Garcia and Taryn Gombar visited London last summer, it was their first time overseas.
But unlike average tourists, they immersed themselves in London’s criminal justice system, visiting prisons, juvenile detention centers, town halls and police departments. Through their trip, they learned firsthand the differences between the English and American criminal justice systems, and they were able to apply this knowledge to their course studies back in the U.S.
Both Garcia and Gombar are part of the 3+1 Program at the College of DuPage (COD) in Glen Ellyn, which allows them to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Lewis University while taking classes at COD. But in their case, they were able to extend their studies across the Atlantic Ocean to London as well.
COD offers a variety of study abroad opportunities for students, from traditional study abroad programs that allow students to study at an international university for an extended period of time to language-intensive summer programs to a variety of field and experiential learning courses held throughout the year. All programs are aimed at providing students with a hands-on educational experience.
The college has offered study abroad courses for almost 20 years, when the language-intensive course in Costa Rica began in 1993. The Field and Experiential Learning Program began at the college in 1970.
Professor Edith Jaco has co-directed the Costa Rica study abroad program since 1993, seeing participants of all ages throughout the years.
Since the course takes place over the summer, adults looking to improve their Spanish-speaking skills, such as teachers or other professionals, will sign up for it, Jaco said. COD study abroad programs are open to all community members, meaning someone can sign up specifically for the study abroad or field and experiential learning classes necessary to take a study abroad trip without taking other classes at COD.
“It’s really for everyone,” Jaco said.
She said study abroad programs are the best way to master a language, such as Spanish, since students have to speak the language every day while living overseas.
“Immersion programs are the best way to understand the culture and speak the language,” Jaco said.
In addition to the program in Costa Rica, COD offers language programs in Spain, France and Japan.
Semester- or summer-long study abroad programs allow students to take classes almost anywhere in the world, according to the COD website.
Students who wish to participate in these programs take classes at an international university but earn credits toward their degree at COD.
Field and Experiential Learning at COD includes courses — such as the Crime and Punishment course taken by Garcia and Gombar — that combine classroom learning with field-based experience. Trips associated with these courses are typically shorter than traditional or language-intensive study abroad trips.
Field studies courses are divided into four categories: weekend and outdoor, natural science, international, and social science and cultural, said Elise Benassi, administrative assistant in the Field and Experiential Learning/Study Abroad Office.
She said study abroad programs allow students to go beyond classroom learning to learn more about themselves. In a study abroad setting, students are challenged to see how they respond to different situations. They’re able to identify their strengths and see how patient, flexible and appreciative they are, Benassi said.
“I think the value of study abroad is seeing yourself from a new perspective,” she said.
And in the case of students Garcia and Gombar, they are able to see the criminal justice system in the U.S. from a new perspective.
Garcia, a Downers Grove resident, said correctional facilities in England concentrate on rehabilitation rather than punishment, unlike in the U.S. Community efforts focus on prevention and reducing the fear of crime, he said.
“Education is key,” Garcia said. “That’s the number one thing that needs to be changed.”
Gombar, who lives in Wheaton, added that education is not only necessary for the inmates but for prison guards as well, because many guards in the U.S. don’t appear to enjoy their jobs.
She said this was not the case in England, especially in the male juvenile center.
“They (the guards) came to work every day to make the males’, the inmates’, lives better and not just for the money,” Gombar said.
She added police officers also receive more respect in London than they do in the U.S., something that’s important for both Gombar and Garcia as both hope to become police officers themselves one day.
“They’re really into the community,” Gombar said. “They make their presence known wherever they go and really try to help however they can.”
Both Garcia and Gombar plan to graduate in 2014. But first, they are tagging along with next summer’s Crime and Punishment trip to London. This time, though, they’ll take some time for more traditional sightseeing.
Interested in classes?
Please visit www.cod.edu/academics/field/studyabroad for more information on COD’s Study Abroad and Field and Experiential Learning programs.
Most Recent Comment
More Local News News
- Five things we learned at Tuesday's Downers Grove Council meeting
- Lemont District 113A approves $750,000 technology upgrade plan
- WDSRA Foundation names new board chairman
- Shaw names 3 to vice president posts
- Glen Crest students receive dodgeball reward for food pantry donations