College of Education students experience immersive European study abroad

Students pose in front of Colosseum in Rome
Education majors pose in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy during their summer study abroad.

Twelve East Carolina University education majors experienced a sampling of the culture that Europe has to offer during a summer study abroad trip this May.

During the 12-day trip, education living-learning community students visited England, France and Italy. Throughout the journey, they had tour guides leading them on bus and walking tours to see sights such as the Eiffel Tower, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, Pompeii, and several palaces, churches and museums.

“This trip was one I will never forget,” said Annie Greene, a history education major and Maynard Scholar. “As a kid growing up with a single parent on a teacher’s salary, these places were places that only existed in movies or in textbooks to me. I never thought I would ever get the opportunity to travel abroad, much less with some of my best friends.”

Students also had the chance to visit a public school in Florence, Italy, where they spoke to a fourth-grade class and learned some of the major differences between American and Italian schooling.

“We were able to ask questions,” said Taylor Buck, an elementary education major. “This allowed me, as a future educator, to learn how to incorporate multicultural education into my future classroom and showed me some things that I would love to bring in my classroom, such as the teaching of multiple languages.”

Students stand in back of Italian classroom
Students visited a fourth-grade classroom in Florence, Italy during the trip.

For elementary education major Aspen Hardin, visiting the local elementary school was one of the highlights of her trip.

“I got to hear about the many different projects they do, languages they learn and all about the school’s process,” she said. “I have always had a passion for learning about other countries and their culture, so adding education and teaching to it was that much more fulfilling.”

For many of the students, this trip brought new and exciting experiences. Several students had never flown internationally before or traveled without their families, like education major Kaitlin Cook. She noted that while she was nervous at first, it was an amazing experience.

“The places that we went to that I enjoyed the most were Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri in Italy,” Cook said. “As an education major, it is important that I embrace different cultures so that I can embrace my future students’ cultures.”

Students embraced every moment of their trip and took time to explore the areas they were in during free time. One experience that several students cherished was the opportunity to get last-minute tickets to see Taylor Swift perform in Paris.

“I can speak for all of us when I say that none of us thought we would ever be able to see her perform, let alone in Paris!” Greene said. “That was just one of the many once-in-a-lifetime experiences this trip gave us.”

As they reflected on the trip, students began planning ways to incorporate their experiences into their learning and future classrooms.

“I am able to use this experience to bring back ideas to my own classroom, such as focusing time on projects to build the classroom community and developing relationships with the extending community around the school,” said Leah Carr, an elementary education major.

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