Office of International Programs offers virtual internships, classes
Because of the ongoing severity of COVID-19, Rollins administration has decided to cancel all field studies until August 2021. Despite these cancellations, however, Rollins is working to provide interested students with virtual alternatives.
The decision to cancel all field studies came amid a continuing rise in case numbers, ongoing travel restrictions, and concerns about the availability of housing for students planning to travel abroad.
According to Giselda Beaudin, director of International Programs, the decision was made after lengthy discussions involving herself, the dean of students, the director of campus safety, the associate vice president for risk management, and other representatives of programs that were affected by the decision.
Beaudin said that the pandemic left them with no other choice but to cancel all programs.
“Every other factor is complicated by [COVID-19],” said Beaudin. “We looked at several factors for every program: can you get to a certain country right now, what is the healthcare system like in that country, is the US embassy operating normally in that country, and how the programs themselves are meant to operate.”
While summer in-person programs have been cancelled, students who are interested will be able to participate in virtual alternatives offering international experience without having to travel.
“We’ve been really lucky, because a lot of our partner organizations that we already know really well and have worked with before were able to pivot and start offering virtual opportunities for students,” said Beaudin. “We’re trying to emphasize opportunities that are as hands-on as you can be without leaving your room.”
Virtual programs include remote internships with businesses from across the globe, virtual classes, and a series of “mini research-development projects” in East Africa that will involve virtually interacting with locals.
When asked about whether these virtual experiences would count as credits for programs that require field studies or other international programs, Beaudin said that it varies from department to department.
“Students will have to contact their advisors to find out what will and will not count towards their major,” said Beaudin.
While the cancellation of all field studies has come as a disappointment to the 169 students who were in the process of registering for these programs–and the many more who were considering it–virtual programs offer some consolation.
“It’s disappointing that the field studies were cancelled, but they had no other choice,” said Laura Pachon (‘21), a senior who had been planning to attend a field study in Tanzania as an assistant.
While Pachon said she would not be personally interested in the proposed virtual alternatives, she can see why they might be appealing to students with no other options.
“Rollins is doing what it has to do to make things work,” said Pachon.