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ITC receives praise from students

November 9, 2006

The International Traveling Classroom (ITC) is a program that allows students from UW-River Falls the opportunity to travel around Europe. This year the program is so popular that some students have been put on a waiting list.

Wes Chapin, previous ITC Coordinator (2003-2006) and 2005 group leader, said many factors contribute to the ITC’s popularity.

“Personally, I think the popularity of the ITC is a result of several factors,” he said. “Students can complete UWRF courses that require the typical examinations, papers, and so on, but they do it as part of a group with UWRF faculty and staff who can assist them before, during and after the experience. Student also really liked completing courses that allowed first-hand experiences unavailable here.”

Chapin said UWRF staff and students who have been involved with the ITC have played a large role in the growing interest in the program.

“I think that was probably a function of our recruitment efforts as a staff, and the fact that recruitment for the 2007 group benefited from the positive views that the 2005 and 2006 students spread around campus,” he said.

The ITC travels overseas each spring semester and is now in its third year. In 2005, the group took part in a three-week program. Last year, the group spent an entire semester in Europe. Next semester, the group will travel to London, Athens, Amsterdam, Paris and Vienna.

ITC Coordinator Charlie Rader said students in the program often appreciate the differences between Europe and the United States.

“It’s damaging to say, ‘That’s not how we do it in America,’” he said. “Students should approach their travels with an open mind.”

For students who haven’t had an experience with international traveling before, Rader said he absolutely encourages it.

Students who have traveled with ITC agree.

“Take out a loan if you have to, because this is an excellent opportunity,” senior Chris Wenig said.

Wenig traveled with ITC last spring, and his favorite places to visit were Spain, Rome and the Czech Republic.

“I liked Spain because of the beautiful sunny beaches,” Wenig said.

Rader said faculty members are constantly searching for ways to improve the program.

“We are always looking for different places to explore,” he said. “Since we don’t have the same access to the Internet, we try to make things logistically easier for students.”

In order to prepare for their travels in the spring, students are required to go through 10 hours of orientation during fall semester.

“We talk about packing, basic communication, small assignments, health, safety and money,” Rader said. “Students also need to handle taxes before they leave for Europe because that occurs while we are overseas.”

Before the euro, the single currency of 12 European countries, some students had issues with money. Now those problems are almost non-existent with the presence of the euro and ATMs.

The ITC is not only about traveling, but classes are involved as well.

ITC group leader Rik Seefeldt will teach two psychology classes in the program this year. In the past, human geography classes have also been taught.

Junior Amber Dallager plans to travel with the ITC this year.

“I am looking forward to being in Europe for a whole semester,” Dallager said. “I am really excited for the historical aspect of Europe — museums, historical buildings, statues, art, everything. There is just so much to learn and discover.”

Rader said students who are interested in traveling to Europe should do it, whether or not they do so through the ITC.

“This is just an option that the campus provides,” Rader said. “Students should find a program that fits their needs because it’s so important for students to have a significant experience overseas.”

Rader makes preparations for the students and faculty who travel with the program. He makes airline arrangements, participates in orientation and goes through student applications. He also travels with the group.

Rader said there are many reasons why he enjoys being coordinator.

“The most rewarding thing is probably seeing how the students grow and change over the semester,” he said. “They become good travelers and world citizens. They learn what it means to be an American.”

Applications are being accepted now for the ITC 2008. Although the ITC faculty is still in the process of finalizing the itinerary, students can expect to travel to England, France, Germany, Italy and possibly Spain. The ITC is open to all students from all majors.

For more information, visit www.uwrf.edu/itc/ or e-mail Rader at charles.p.rader@uwrf.edu.