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College Offers Summer Study Abroad Programs Across Three Continents

by Erica Yuenger / Mar 9, 2010


Morocco travel abroad photoSchool may be the last thing on students' minds when making plans for summer vacation, but toss in some learning in tropical climates and the cultural experience of a lifetime, and students may just take advantage of the offer.

The College of Education is offering several opportunities for students to travel abroad this summer. With trips planned on three different continents, students are signed up to expand their knowledge of education and share what they have learned at Illinois around the globe in Argentina, Turkey and Morocco.

For Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Morocco trip organizer Mark Dressman, it will be familiar territory. Although this is the first time a summer course is being offered in Morocco, Dressman has been traveling there for years, dating back to his days as a Peace Corps volunteer there.

"It's really culturally and historically unique - yet accessible and friendly," Dressman said. "It's not Europe; it's a really different world."

Dressman said the United States has the longest standing friendship treaty with Morocco, as it was the first country to recognize American independence. Another interesting aspect, he said, is that Morocco is a Muslim country, and it is therefore important for cultural relations.

Experiencing local culture is a goal for all of the study abroad programs, but at times, it can be difficult to navigate or understand. That's where guides come in. Linda Tabb, Online Program Coordinator and organizer of the Turkey trip said in the past, and for the currently planned trip to Istanbul, she has had graduate assistants who knew the countries and customs travel along with them.

"They are originally from the countries where we travel, and their local expertise has been central," Tabb said.

To prepare for the journey overseas, each program has several weeks of course instruction before the students actually board their flights. In the case of the Argentina study tour, there will also be four weeks of follow-up instruction online, to give students a chance to share their experiences and discuss the significance of what they learned. Each trip will also feature a service component. In Argentina, for example, students will have the opportunity to visit schools and institutions in Cordoba for a week, but for a majority of the trip, they will be working in schools in Alta Gracia.

And while the intent is to learn more about other cultures and education, students can enjoy these trips beyond the educational aspect.

"The course and trip are designed for total engagement - of students' minds, hearts, bodies and spirits," Dressman said. "I can't wait to do it."

For more information about the College of Education, contact our Communications Office at 217-244-8335 or email