Dr. Holly Carter started her “international adventure” at age 12. Now, as the new director of the John Belk International Program, she wants to hook Queens students on the joys of exploring the world.
“I think it’s probably the most important thing a person will ever do,” says Carter, who joined Queens this summer from Augusta State University. In addition to the academic lessons, students benefit in other ways when submerged in culture abroad, she adds. “They develop a lot of self-confidence. They learn a lot about themselves. They’re forced to think about things in different ways and I think that people find out that they’re a lot stronger and more capable than they think they are. The world’s a big old place.”
Every bit as important to her are the relationships and understanding gained between the students and the people that they encounter in these countries. “Forging those types of relationships, getting to know people from other cultures, that all goes back to becoming a more well-rounded, global citizen.”
Hailing from Arizona, her father was a professor of Paleobotany at Arizona State University, and she jokes that as a result, she started college at the age of two. Her love for foreign cultures and traveling also began at a young age. She lived with an aunt and uncle between the ages of 12 and 18, living in France and North Africa. After four years back in the U.S., she moved to Scotland to finish her studies. “I was there for three years, and then worked in London for six years before I came back to Georgia.”
Twice a year, she goes on missions with Habitat for Humanity International, so far having built in El Salvador and, this fall, Indonesia.
Last year, as assistant vice president for international affairs at Augusta State, providing support for students traveling abroad, she felt it was time for a change. “I had a wonderful experience there; it was a great place for me to work. Sometimes change is visited upon you, and you kind of say, ‘okay, yeah, I get it.’ So I saw the job opening for Queens, and knew how it sent so many students abroad, and the programs. I didn’t know everything about it yet, obviously, but I saw it and was very impressed with it.”
What changes are in store for the JBIP program? “New carpet,” she says with a laugh.
More seriously, she adds, “We have some initial projects we’re looking at for the fall; we’re getting a bit of a facelift, so tell everyone to stay tuned. We’re also looking at some new safety and health procedures, which students, faculty and staff might not really notice, but we really want people to understand that as the JBIP office, we’re safe, we’re secure, and we have a plan. So those things I think we’ll start to see in the next year of JBIP.”
Another project she’s been working on is an encyclopedia of sorts for the program itself. After finding a vast array of different records and photos from past trips taken by the school, she made a trip herself to examine the John Belk Agreement more closely, and describes it as “visionary for its time.” Her ultimate goal is to gather records, interviews with the past participating teachers and students, and track the JBIP trips all the way back to the beginning as both a way to reminisce for the veterans and as a briefing book for the incoming sophomores.
In the midst of all her trips, traveling, and adventures, does she have a favorite place to go? “Without a doubt, France,” she says with a smile. “I feel very at home there. The moment I get off the plane I breathe a sigh of relief.”