2018 Director's Remark

Director's Remarks

This past November, as part of a United States team of educators and institutional leaders, researchers, students, and social and government representatives, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2nd World Congress on Global Access to Postsecondary Education in Campinas, Brazil. It was a very short trip – I was only there for five days – but it was an amazing time to network and share with other colleagues from around the world and to experience a little of Brazil.

Although I already had a passport, I had to get a visa as well, as Brazil requires all U.S. citizens to have a visa to enter and exit the country. I took a direct flight from Chicago to Sao Paulo, the capitol of Brazil - about a 10-hour flight. Once there I went through customs to enter the country and have my passport punched. I’ve traveled abroad several times, however, every time I go through customs I’m a little nervous. At the airport, I was able to meet up with other U.S. team members.



Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.  

Mark Twain

From there we arranged transportation to Campinas, Brazil, where the congress was being held. We used an Uber driver which was challenging because he didn’t speak English, and we didn’t speak Portuguese. We arrived safely, though, and spent the afternoon touring downtown Campinas and having an authentic Brazilian meal. The next two days, we met in sessions with colleagues from places such as Netherlands; Cape Town, South Africa; Puerto Rico; China; Japan; and, of course, Brazil.

When the congress was over, we traveled back to Sao Paulo and spent two days there. We were able to visit a Samba dance school where drummers and dancers were practicing for competition in the annual carnival to be celebrated at the end of February, which is the end of their summer and beginning of Lent. According to Wikipedia, “A samba school (Portuguese: escola de samba) is a dancing club or school. They practice and often perform in huge square-compounds (“quadras de samba”) devoted to practicing and exhibiting samba, an African-Brazilian dance.”

The next day we walked around the city and ate at street markets. I ate the best mango I’ve ever tasted and drank coconut water from an actual coconut. That day I walked over 18,000 steps!

I was reminded of the importance of having experiences like these for my own personal growth.  

Roxanne Gregg

Through this short visit, I was reminded of the importance of having experiences like these for my own personal growth: I learn about new cultures and share mine, I embrace new foods and develop my palate, and discover new ways to communicate with people. I became open to new perspectives and ways of thinking. In this edition of the newsletter, we will highlight a few students who have traveled abroad or who are preparing to go to Thailand this spring.

They will share their experiences and reflect on what they learned or are hoping to learn. I challenge each of you to be open to new experiences – travel and otherwise. When you get in college, seek out the Study Abroad offices and other opportunities that will expand your horizons and perhaps take you out of your comfort zone. Attending college will be a new experience in and of itself, but beyond that, there is a whole big world out there for you to explore and embrace. Adventure awaits!