The Center for International Studies: TCU Abroad has introduced the new Veteran International Student Ambassador Program for returning students looking to share their experiences with potential student globetrotters beginning this fall.
Lisa Ellor, study abroad coordinator, wrote in an e-mail that the initiative, also called the VISA Corps, aims to draw on the exposure study abroad alums receive during their travels in order to inform and assist other university students.
“A good VISA Corps candidate is a student who can utilize his or her own study abroad experience to offer guidance … to others,” Ellor wrote.
Applicants to the program can expect to serve as Study Abroad Ambassadors during their participation and will have ongoing collaboration with the Center for International Studies, Ellor wrote. She also said VISA Corps representatives will be involved with pre-departure presentations and serve as peer advisers to other students considering study abroad.
In addition to peer advising, recruiting and promotional services are at the center of a student’s role as a VISA Corps participant, Ellor wrote. These activities will serve as outlets for returning students to share their passion and enthusiasm for the travel experience with underclassmen.
“The key for a good candidate would be the ability to move beyond the tourist experience and articulate the qualities of a global leader and responsible citizen,” Ellor wrote.
Macy Zander, a junior environmental and political science major, said she thinks the VISA Corps program has the potential to assure interested students of their decision to leave the university for an entire semester. After consulting with several former students who completed international study, Zander decided to travel to Perth, Australia in the spring.
Ellor wrote that students who live and study abroad for any length of time often view it as an eye-opening experience; the VISA Corps program enables these students to share their new worldview.
“In many ways they return as a transformed person; they feel more confident, independent and full of a greater awareness of self,” Ellor wrote.
According to the Center for International Studies: TCU Abroad Web site, a student returning from international study, like Zander, would be eligible to apply for the program as a study abroad alum, The site also provides more information about potential study destinations as well as the VISA Corps application process.
Bianca Allen, a financial aid adviser, said more university students are opting for international study than ever before and those looking to travel should know their options.
“You’re never actually aware of what opportunities may be out there unless you actually apply for them,” Allen said.
The amount of financial aid a student currently receives can be applied toward their study abroad experience, as long as they maintain their enrollment requirements, Allen said.
The first major activity for VISA Corps participants will be the Study Abroad Fair Sept. 23.
More information about study abroad can be found at www.studyabroad.tcu.edu.