As the Virginia Wesleyan Community continues to adapt during their third COVID-19 semester, students across the world are still not allowed to participate in their study away programs due to the current situation. Virginia Wesleyan’s Lighthouse has been trying to keep this experiential learning alive through multiple virtual events, video series and continue to prepare for a time when it will return.
Mandy Reinig, Director of Study Away for the Lighthouse, has been working with the Lighthouse team, students, and alumni to create these virtual events such as Being a Woman Abroad, It’s Too Expensive….And 7 Other Study Away Lies, How to Complete Your ISEP Application, How to Complete your VWU Global Scholars Application and How to Start Your Study Abroad Program Search. All of these video series events can be found on the VWU Lighthouse Youtube Page which is linked on their VWU webpage.
Even though students are not currently able to study away this semester, Reinig is working with students directly to plan their future experiences for whenever they are able to return. Currently there is a plan for students to study abroad in Fall 2021 with the 9 students currently registered in the Global Scholars program, however nothing is official yet.
“It’s the unknown that is the most challenging because you don’t know when things are going to reopen, you don’t know what the restrictions are going to be…so many unknowns…It’s frustrating because I do not have an answer” said Reinig.
The Lighthouse has plans to return Study Away as soon as possible, including some plans lining up for January Term 2022, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022. Even though nothing is confirmed yet, the faculty and staff of VWU have been working to create trips for the future. Such trips include Dr. Doug Kennedy’s trip to Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Terry Lindvall’s trip to Oxford, England and many of the Batten Honors College study away courses that had to be deferred. Even though these trips are not open for registration yet, students can continue to plan their study away trips for the future.
“It will recover because there are so many benefits to studying abroad and so many people want it back…people see how much benefit there is when it’s gone,” explained Reinig.
Charlotte Weinstein, a Batten Honors College sophomore and Global Scholar, is scheduled to study at Tokyo International in the fall 2021 semester. “I have been wanting to study away for years and it is so close to becoming a reality. The fact that it can be snatched away in a second is terrifying,” said Weinstein. She continues to prepare for her program like normal with the help of the Lighthouse staff, and is willing to adapt to any changes made to her schedule.
Another student who is a part of the Global Scholars program scheduled to head out next semester is VWU junior Grant Morgan. who said planning has been difficult. “With COVID-19 restrictions and closed borders, the possibility of planning a future trip is a daunting task. However, with all of these components set, I am extremely excited about the possibility to travel abroad this fall in Tokyo, Japan,” said Morgan, who will be attending Rikkyo University in the fall.
Students can continue to prepare for study away programs by finding more information on the Lighthouse VWU webpage at https://www.vwu.edu/academics/the-lighthouse/. For more specific information or for help, students can schedule virtual meetings with Mandy Reinig and other Lighthouse staff on the same webpage.
By Lauren Faulkner