This year marks the UC Education Abroad Program’s (UC EAP) 50-year anniversary. EAP is offered throughout all 10 UC campuses, and has allowed for thousands of students to acquire global experience in pursuit of academic and personal enrichment.
Starting in 1962, UC EAP sent their first group of participants to a university in Bordeaux, France. Fifty years later, the UC EAP is one of the most successful university-based study abroad programs in the U.S., with diverse programs in countries ranging from Russia to Ghana to the Philippines.
“In the half-century since the first participants set out for Bordeaux in the south of France, UC EAP has grown to become a global leader in study abroad,” said Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director of the University of California Education Abroad Program Jean-Xavier Guinard in a press release. “The goal of UC EAP’s 50th anniversary is to celebrate 50 years of study abroad leadership and innovation at the University of California and continue to strengthen and grow the program in the next 50 years.”
In honor of the anniversary, a UC EAP 50th Anniversary Celebration will take place on April 28 at UC Santa Barbara. Additionally, each UC campus is planning other events throughout the year to showcase the achievements of the program over the years. UC Davis is looking into forming an event on Picnic Day to highlight the anniversary, according to UC Davis Education Abroad Center (EAC) Associate Director Zachary Frieders.
The UC EAP also recently received a substantial increase in the UC Student Aid Pool. Over 200 Gilman Scholarships were awarded to UC EAP participants for the 2011-12 year, totaling over $800,000.
“The success for UC EAP students results in a significant financial contribution to the University of California and is a testament to the quality of the UC education system as well as the students themselves,” Guinard said in a press release.
At UC Davis, the EAC along with other communities on campus have become advocates for what international education should look like. The success of the EAP is one part of the UC system’s goal to internationalize the campuses, Frieders said.
“Students want to have international dimension to their degree. We want to support that,” Frieders said. “The demand for study abroad has been strong the past couple of years despite the economy. We attribute that to students wanting to have more than just a degree from Davis or more than just an international experience, but also an internship or immersion in a foreign language abroad.”
In general, the desire to study abroad for students has increased, which has in turn lead the EAC to try to diversify what programs they offer. EAP is one of those programs, but UC Davis faculty lead summer and quarter aboard programs are also available for students.
“We typically send about 400 students on EAP each year. In the past couple years the EAP program has seen less than normal number of students participating in the program [at UC Davis],” Frieders said. “However, the decline may be attributed to students’ desires to do shorter-term programs, and our faculty lead quarter and summer abroad programs continue to grow.”
Alex Sarkisian, a senior art studio and technocultral studies double major, said that her short summer program in Italy not only sealed her interest in art, but also influenced her to study abroad again in Scotland.
“It really defines your undergrad experience, big time,” she said. “It’s such a huge impact on so many different levels, personally and academically. Also, when you get close to graduating your mind opens up to different opportunities, and there are so many employers looking for students with global experience.”
For Marissa Knox, a senior psychology and communication double major, what resonated with her most from her time in Florence, Italy was learning to appreciate the beauty in everyday situations.
“It’s truly defined my experience and shaped my whole self, in a positive way,” she said. “Students who are wary about financials, academics or anything that could be an obstacle to studying abroad, it’s such an investment in your future it’s worth any hoops you have to jump through. It will forever carry on in your life.”
More information about the history of the UC EAP and upcoming events can be found at eap.ucop.edu/50.
MICHELLE MURPHY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.