CBU gets creative with study abroad program during the pandemic

Updated: Sep. 21, 2020 at 5:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Like many universities, Christian Brothers University has gone virtual for several classes because of the pandemic, including within the study abroad program.

“It was sort of in the back of our minds that this was an illness that was spreading and that it might eventually end up affecting our study abroad plan,” Study Abroad Coordinator Melissa Luttmann said.

Staff at Christian Brothers University’s study abroad program had those initial concerns back in February.

Since then, they have had to cancel trips and reimagine what studying abroad looks like during a pandemic.

“Eric and I began planning in the summer for how we might handle his course if we were not able to take the October trip to Rome,” Luttman said.

Electrical Engineering professor Dr. Eric Welch usually guides his students through ancient Roman architecture.

“We can’t physically take them there this year, but we can visually take them there,” Welch said.

This year, he is guiding them virtually through pictures taken on previous trips, and he is also utilizing Google Earth.

“You just have to be creative and open to trying different techniques,” he said.

Welch added that his class is not as large as it has been in years past, mostly due to the fact that it is not taking place in Rome physically. But, the study abroad program hopes to see a resurgence. Plans are being made for next year, but nothing is guaranteed.

“We’re really emphasizing flexibility and being able to ensure that students won’t outlay any money that they aren’t able to get back,” Luttmann explained.

CBU’s study abroad staff said there are still travel concerns regarding open borders as well, but they are hoping that students will be able to go abroad next May.

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