Update: The 2018-2019 JBIP trips have now been made public. There are trips available to England, Argentina, France, Denmark, Italy, South Africa, Micronesia and Spain. The details of each trip is available on the Queens Study Abroad webpage.
On Wednesday, March 14th from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Queens is hosting their annual John Belk International Program (JBIP) Reveal Party in Claudia Belk within Trexler. At this carnival themed party complete with popcorn, cotton candy, and other festivities, the 2019 JBIP trips will be revealed. Faculty and students who have previously done a study abroad trip will be attending to talk to students one-on-one about the program.
“Oh man, its great education,” said Joe Cornelius, an assistant professor in the Knight School of Communication. Cornelius was a faculty leader on a two-week trip to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics, where journalism students covered the impact the Olympics have on the local community. He believes that a study abroad trip in college affords students an opportunity to explore and grow in a safe environment where “you can make mistakes and it doesn’t really affect you too much.”
To have access to the JBIP funds, an interested student must attend Queens for at least four semesters before they graduate. This means that transfer students should talk to their counselor to see if they will be eligible to receive funding for a study abroad trip.“JBIP funds are a culmination of students’ tuition and a big gift that the university received from John Belk to international education, and then the university contributes some funds as well,” said Kelen Townsend, international education coordinator.
While the financial support is fundamental to the program, the flexibility that the university strives for also helps clear obstacles from students’ paths. There are five types of study abroad trips available to traditional undergraduate students: short-term faculty-led programs, semester/year abroad, language immersion, international internships, and summer business programs in France and China. Additionally, the short-term study abroad trips are held at times that are most available for students, such as winter break and summer break.
“We really try and understand our student body,” Townsend said, recognizing that students have their hands in many different pots, such as volunteering, athletics, and internships. “We try and offer as much flexibility as possible so no matter what you’re involved in, there is something for you.”
Townsend thinks studying abroad is a growing experience. She said that the unfamiliarity of being in a country where you do not speak the language or know the culture “pushes you to grow a little bit and develop some independence.”
Beyond the personal growth that is achieved through a JBIP trip, study abroad is one of the top five things that employers look for on a resume. “I think that’s because it makes you more flexible, it makes you more independent, it shows you can work with all types of people from all over the world,” Townsend said.
“[Students] got picked up by USA Today while [they] were in Rio covering the impact of the Olympics. That’s impressive, that shows effort,” Cornelius added.
Students interested in the opportunities offered by the John Belk International Program need to start planning for their trip as early as possible. Applications have to be completed a year in advance. Townsend gave the example, “if I wanted to study abroad next summer, I’d apply by this April.”
“I think its invaluable to me. Its cheesy,” Townsend said, “but I think it helps you to develop a different mindset.”