Imagine spending two weeks in a foreign country this summer working on ecological conservation projects or mentoring young children. Then, after completing those projects, imagine spending another two weeks in that country on an adventure tour, diving in the Great Barrier Reef or fighting freezing temperatures while climbing glaciers in New Zealand.
If this sounds like a great way to spend the summer, then the series of meetings to be held today in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Room 101 about the International Student Travel Program is the place to be. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., meetings held each hour will provide students with information about the program and its offerings.
The four-week program is a half volunteer work, half adventure tour that will cost about $2,095. Students participating may choose from several different countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica or British Columbia. There are volunteer tracks from which to choose — either environmental or social. The environmental track includes such projects as rainforest regeneration in Australia, known as the Dain Tree Project or endangered species management in Costa Rica. The social project involves teaching English to underprivileged children in Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic.
Jennifer Arnott, coordinator for ISTP said the program attracts people from all over the nation.
“Students from all over North America will be grouped in this program,” she said.
Students are attracted to the program not only because of the projects and adventure, but also because of the potential to earn six university credits. The credits, however, are not given by USF. The accreditation comes from either the University of California/ Santa Barbara or San Francisco State University, depending on the project chosen and the type of credit the student wishes to gain. To transfer the credits, students must contact their departments at USF to determine how they can apply the credits to their own degree programs.
“Once they decide, they get an info packet called a syllabus and decide how they would use (credit hours) toward their degree,” Arnott said.
Students are not left on their own and will receive some guidance for the first two-week program. Arnott said all who participate receive a comprehensive step-by-step training program during which they are briefed about their duties and responsibilities. They also will meet program leaders and staff.
Should students choose to receive credit, they will have extra assignments such as participating in project discussion groups, maintaining journals and other minor projects to be determined by the program directors.
The second part of the program includes a two-week adventure tour. Each program includes five different activities, all of which are included in the program’s cost of $2,095.
For those who may not be able to afford the cost, the program’s fees can be offset through participating in the travel program’s tax-deductible scholarship donation program. Arnott said that if students are dedicated and work hard, they could possibly reduce the program’s cost to $300.
Though airfare or personal experiences are not included in the program’s cost, Arnott said most everything else is. For more information, attend one of the hourly meetings in MC 101 or to visit the ISTP’s Web site .
“All students come back and say (the program) was the experience of their life,” Arnott said.