On Monday, November 13, 2023, SMCCCD Study Abroad collaborated with the International Student Program of the Global Learning Programs and Services (GLPS) Division to host the Opening Ceremony of the annual International Education Week (IEW) in the Fireside Dining Room in Building 6. A few college leaders were invited to give the welcome remarks at the beginning of the event, including Dr. Newin Orante, Skyline College Acting President, Dr. Vinicio Lopez, Vice President of Instruction, and Zaid Ghori, Interim Dean of GLPS, who emphasized the importance of international education at Skyline College that aims at building a community of global learners.

From left: Susanne Liu, Kelly Li, Zaid Ghori, Alice Yang, Helen Zhang, Dr. Aaron McVean, Dr. Newin Orante
Photo by Zwe Mann Kyaw

Dr. Alice Yang, Acting Director of Special International Programs, announced the winners of the inaugural Study Abroad Photo Contest. We received 76 photos from 12 students this year. The photo entries were judged by 14 judges composed of study abroad ambassadors, GLPS staff, faculty leaders, an international education team, and a webmaster. Seven study abroad alumni won the nine prizes. They received a winner certificate for the photo contest in three categories: Host Country Landscape/Culture, SMCCCD Student(s) Self-Portrait, and Cultural Immersion/Interaction.

Congratulations to the photo contest winners! They are Grace Weber (Spring 2020 Florence), Jared Segura (Fall 2023 Barcelona), Liz Jordan (Spring 2023 Art in France), Nicole Condez (Spring 2023 Florence), Liz Scotta (Summer 2019 Italian Fashion), Emily O’Donnell (Spring 2023 Florence), and Philip Georgy (Summer 2023 Barcelona). The participants also agreed that all the photo entries posted to the study abroad website can be used for promoting our study abroad programs and SMCCCD.

SMCCCD Study Abroad also hosted a Study Abroad Panel discussion during the International Education Week (IEW) opening ceremony. Moderated by Kelly Li, Program Services Coordinator –Study Abroad, three study abroad alumni, including Alexa Nielsen, Susanne Chushan Liu, and Philip Georgy shared their study abroad experience with the large audience. They shared about the benefits of studying abroad and how scholarships played a part in their study aboard journey. Although the three students attended different study abroad programs, they shared something in common – the study abroad programs they attended helped shape their education and career path. They all had positive life changing experiences.

Alexa studied in London, England, in Fall 2022 for a whole semester, and that experience has made a great impact on her education path and life. She enjoyed being independent for the first time and living in London without her parents. She celebrated her 20th birthday in London. Using her words, “I grew up from a teenager into adulthood while I was studying abroad!” Alexa is now working at the Study Abroad Office as a proud Student Ambassador, where she gets to learn about office work skills and encourage other students to study abroad.

Philip is a two-time Gilman Scholarship recipient! With the scholarship fund, he could participate in two different study abroad programs. He first participated in a virtual internship program in Japan during the COVID pandemic, where he worked for a non-profit organization in Japan to help underserved children. With the major in Social Science, the experiences were valuable and helped him better understand the social issues in the world. Philip wanted to participate in an in-person study abroad program, so he applied again when international travel reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic. This time, he studied in Barcelona, Spain, in the Summer of 2023. This in-person study abroad experience has opened his eyes, and he made many new friends. He said he wishes to participate in more study abroad programs in the future, and he highly recommends other students to do so. Here’s a quote from Philip: “To grab the opportunity and to discover new cultures and new ways of life, I wish I could do it again.”

Susanne has a major in accounting, and she participated in a virtual internship in the Summer of 2023. During the internship, Susanne supported the CEO and Director of Operations in performing research, tax preparation, payroll administration, preparing financial reports, reconciling accounts, and bookkeeping. This internship experience allowed her to practice the accounting knowledge she learned from school in the real world. She had such a positive experience with the study abroad program that it has made her choose to study abroad again in Spring 2024, and this time, it’s in person in Florence for a whole semester! She is very excited and has been preparing for the program. She will be in Florence from February to May 2024 for three months. She looks forward to the new adventures!

In addition to the two events, SMCCCD Study Abroad and Skyline College Passport Services will offer a Free Passport Photo Day on Thursday, November 16. Any student interested in studying abroad may stop by the Passport Office in Building 19 to take a passport photo for free. The $16 service fee will be waived.

Students who never had a passport may apply for the First Passport Grant offered by SMCCCD Study Abroad through the donations/scholarship fund from the local community people who attended the SMCCCD Community Travel Program. The grant covers the $165 passport application fees. Ten grants will be offered in 2023. The application deadline is December 1, 2023.

From left: Alexa Nielsen, Kelly Li, Philip Georgy, Susanne Liu
Photo by Clair Yeo-Sugajski

SMCCCD Study Abroad is the district-wide study abroad program housed in the Global Learning Programs and Services Division at Skyline College. For more information about studying or interning abroad, faculty lead abroad opportunities, community travel for lifelong learners, visiting international faculty presenters and student scholarship opportunities, please contact Kelly Li or Dr. Alice Yang at studyabroad@smccd.edu or by calling 650-738-7098. You can also learn more by visiting the SMCCD Study Abroad Facebook page or Instagram page @smcccd_study_abroad.

Article by Aidan Takeuchi, Kelly Li, and Alice Yang

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