Education Abroad develops 'GloBull Greeks' program

By By Brittany Mulligan, CORRESPONDENT
On January 23, 2013

Greeks on campus could soon find themselves in Greece or any other country around the world studying abroad due to an initiative by the Education Abroad office.

The Education Abroad office at USF is planning a GloBull Greek campaign, which would encourage students in fraternities and sororities to study abroad.

Among various organizations on campus, the education abroad office found that Greek organizations at USF were a group that had the lowest percentage of students participating in study abroad programs, Julie Ficarra, an education abroad advisor, said.

Ficarra said once students take the time to join a Greek organization, they find it difficult to leave their brotherhood or sisterhood for a summer or semester abroad.

But Education Abroad hopes to incentivize studying abroad within the Greek system, and Ficarra said they approached the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life last summer to pitch the idea of a campaign to promote studying abroad among Greeks.

Ficarra said the Education Abroad office hopes to compare the Greek organization rosters to the Education Abroad rosters and award points to the Greek organizations who have members studying abroad in the fall, spring and summer semesters. The winning organization will win a trophy cup, which they will house until the next academic year.

There are a few models that can be used for the program, Ficarra said.

Purdue University in Indiana created a similar program called Global Greeks, to capitalize on the competitive nature between Greek organizations and to try to increase participation in study abroad programs.

In Purdues Global Greeks program, different Greek organizations compete against each other for the Global Greek Cup. Every year they tally up the percentage of each organization that participated in the study abroad programs.

At other universities, every student who studies abroad for a summer semester earns one point, for a regular semester, two points and for an academic year, three points. Some systems award a half point for every student enrolled in a language course or a cultural course at the university.

Ficarra said the Education Abroad office plans to take the idea to the Greek presidents council in a few weeks.

Ficarra said she reached out to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OFSL) last semester about the idea, and both offices agreed it would be a good opportunity.

Vanessa Guthrie, a senior majoring in mass communications and member of Chi Omega, a womens fraternity at USF, visited Ireland last summer as part of the mass communications study abroad program.

The trip was great, she said. I had never been to Europe, and I thought Ireland would be a really good place to visit first. There were many different types of people on the trip, and I was able to connect with them. I wouldnt have been able to otherwise.

When she returned home, Guthrie said she shared her experience with those in her fraternity who had yet to travel abroad.

When I came back, I had the experience that I could share, Guthrie said. Sharing that experience (with others) became a good way to bond and communicate.

Guthrie said she thinks the initiative by Education Abroad to get more Greeks involved is a good idea, and that the office should work to target as many different groups as possible.

We are going to try and push semester programs and help the Greek community understand that you can leave your brotherhood or sisterhood for a semester, Raven Villegas, a USF graduate and a study abroad gateway office volunteer, said. (They) come back stronger and make it stronger because of that.

Last semester, the Education Abroad office targeted students in Learning Living Communities (LLCs) and held multiple informational sessions in the Juniper-Popular residence halls. At the sessions, USF Global ambassadors, students who studied abroad previously who work to promote study abroad programs, spoke about why students should study abroad.

Jason Blunt, a global ambassador of USF said a lot of the students had questions about what they should do in relation to their major, how studying abroad would affect their graduation date, and what it would be like to study abroad. Villegas said timing for the new initiative is optimal.

It would be great if (the program) had been here last year to get more people involved and have the further incentives to study abroad, Villegas said. Having the system starting up now is a great time with new chapters that are on campus like Gamma Phi Beta and Alpha Sigma Phi. The USF Greek community is growing, and I think its a great time for us to come together and focus on internationalizing USF and the community.

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