Studying abroad is the chance of a lifetime: to reinvent yourself, to discover that you’re capable of more than you ever thought possible, to work as a team and overcome authentic challenges while bumping up against another culture. In stepping out of your comfort zone—facing questions of personal and cultural identity, evaluating your view of the world—you’re likely to return home having discovered more about who you are and where you come from. Why not take the chance?
The University of Illinois offers wide-ranging experiential learning courses that take students to other countries to focus on special topics in their field of study. Crop science students Josh Wollin and Tahir Ibrahim took advantage of a course taught in Guatemala.
“The trip focused on learning about production techniques for Guatemalan crops, such as coffee, tobacco, rubber, cantaloupe, banana, macadamia nut, onion, and roses,” Tahir said. “We were able to tour the growing facilities for these crops and interact with the local people. It was eye-opening to see people work so hard and be successful with few modern technologies.”
Through a partnership of the Department of Crop Sciences with Agtec, Josh and Tahir and their group were able to make a contribution to Guatemalan communities.
“The best part of the trip was the volunteer work we did with Agtec,” Josh said. “We helped bag organic mulch and deposed coffee leaves and beans. What we did in a few hours would have taken the locals several days. I loved being able to help.”
Josh described the trip to Guatemala as humbling and unique—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “I would recommend study-abroad to everyone,” he said. “It allows students to experience the world from a different point of view. I came back to the United States with a greater appreciation of life and modern technologies.”