Eleven student leaders from the Dallas Community Colleges are now students of the world. The group expanded their international knowledge with a trip to Salzburg, Austria, last month. During their one-week visit, students toured and experienced the city.
DCCCD’s global economic development department sent the students abroad to help them think critically about their role as world citizens. The trip was sponsored by the Global Citizenship Alliance Student Seminar. The program helps students examine the challenges of globalization. Students also learn about financial and cultural interactions among countries.
“Students gain an understanding of the conceptual challenges around global citizenship and peace,” said Anita Gordy-Watkins, DCCCD’s vice chancellor of global and economic development. The trip focused on the problem solving of “real-world political, economic, social and cultural problems.”
Members of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society were asked to apply. To qualify, students had to be 18, U.S. citizens and committed to attend DCCCD in fall 2016.
The food, culture and picturesque views of Europe were exciting for Enoc Chicas, a sophomore nursing student at Brookhaven College.
“DCCCD gave me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Chicas said. “Now it is time for me to deliberate results, serve and inspire others. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go to Salzburg.”
Chicas found Salzburg vibrant, uplifting and educational. Travelling to Europe, he said, is a stepping stone to global citizenship.
“I enjoy meeting people and making new friends,” said Chicas, who has also visited El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Mexico.
“I want to do something with this. I want to be able to encourage other students to try harder,” he said. “I was fortunate to be able to go there. I want to give something back but I don’t know (what). I want to be able to share my experiences with others in the community.”
Chicas hopes to incorporate his new global perspective into his career and everyday life. He wants to become a family practitioner and travel to other countries the help the needy.
Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, its most celebrated son. DCCCD students arrived in time to witness the celebration of Salzburg’s bicentennial. They hummed songs from the Oscar-winning movie “The Sound of Music” after visiting Schloss Leopoldskron, the ornate palace where the film about the von Trapp family was made.
Jaimi Singleton, a veterinary technician major, said the trip marked her first overseas venture. The Cedar Valley student said she found the country beautiful and was pleasantly surprised that the language barrier was barely noticeable.
“It was peaceful. That’s the best way to describe it,” Singleton said. “Everyone was friendly and understood everything. I was able to get around in a taxi … . The food was great.”
Singleton found the trip eye-opening because of the exposure she experienced to people from other cultures and a partnership she hopes will endure.
“I think this is going to help me as I travel. I plan to see more things. You learn to interact. You learn to have a broader perspective,” added Singleton.
William De La Cruz, who also attends Brookhaven, said Austria offered him a chance to interact with people from another culture and hear their views. The trip promoted his status as a student of the world.
“I was not sure what to expect. I just went there with an open mind,” De La Cruz said of his first trip to Europe. “If given the chance to attend another seminar like this, I would not hesitate. I would go again in a heartbeat.”
Martha Hughes, an advisor who accompanied the students, said the excursion allowed students to overcome class and social barriers.
“They talked about the globalized world we live in,” said Hughes, who is vice president of academic affairs at North Lake College. “Our speakers really were attempting to help us understand global issues, like refugees. They talked about Islamophobia. And they talked about us and our gun culture. We’re all here to learn and make this a better place.”
Hughes praised the students for participating and expanding their world view as they soaked up the city’s museums, music, food, exhibitions and customs.
“I think, for some of them, travel itself is an experience. There were a number of students who never had a chance to do anything like this. We give opportunities to students who might not otherwise see this,” Hughes said.