When Ben Christian graduated from Moraine Park Technical College in May, he walked across the stage with a diploma in one hand and global knowledge of world cultures in the other.
Before attending Moraine Park, Christian, a recent Culinary Arts alumnus from Fond du Lac, had little experience abroad, “I had only traveled to Canada,” said Christian.
Through Moraine Park, he had the opportunity to visit Germany, Holland, France, Italy and Sweden. Christian spent one full week in Imperia, Italy, and Berlin and Darmstadt, Germany. “The trips have been greatly entertaining and educational,” Christian said.
At Moraine Park, trips to England are offered, the next of which is taking place March 2012, led by Ron Campopiano, social science instructor at Moraine Park. The England trip is currently open for enrollment and open to alumni, community members, staff and students. The week-long overseas adventure includes field trips to area businesses related to each student’s program of study and tours of cultural points of interest, famous landmarks and other popular destinations.
In March 2011, a group of 12 traveled to London. Jessica Schellpfeffer, a Corrections student from Mayville, said she gained a new cultural perspective from the trip.
“This was a life-changing experience, and I am glad that I participated in the trip. I was half-way across the world and had the opportunity to adapt to a new culture. This is something that I will never forget,” said Schellpfeffer.
“I've always wanted to travel to London, so being able to go there and experience their culture along with learning about how their criminal justice system works was amazing. It was a ton of fun, and I'm hoping to go back as soon as possible,” said Zach Bohlman of Mayville, a Corrections student.
In the winter and summer, Moraine Park students have access to a study intensive offered in Mexico, where students live with a local family to hone in on their Spanish-speaking skills.
Caron Daugherty, Moraine Park Dean of general and international education, said staying with host families allows students to be submerged in local culture when they travel. She explained, “The students experience culture in an authentic environment by staying with the families and learning their daily routines.” “The most extensive visits have been where we stay with our hosts for one week,” Christian added.
In September, Moraine Park hosts students from Germany and, in May, Moraine Park students travel to Germany as part of an ongoing exchange that has existed since 2002 between Moraine Park and the Friedrich List and Peter Behrens vocational schools in Darmstadt, Germany.
Moraine Park culinary arts students, including Christian, recently returned from their travels to Germany. During the trip, Christian used his culinary knowledge from Moraine Park on three separate occasions.
“I was invited to parties in Germany with my host and acted as the cook — people like it when you feed them,” said Christian. “I was able to transfer what I learned at Moraine Park 6,000 miles away. Even with different languages for the ingredients, I was still able to provide a service to these people.”
A new abroad opportunity will be added to the global mix of London, Mexico and Europe in the summer of 2012. In July, Moraine Park manufacturing technology faculty members Larry Clark and Kim Olsen traveled to Hong Kong to solidify relationships Moraine Park started a few years ago with manufacturing contacts. By June of 2012, students will have access to this trip to learn about manufacturing on a global scale.
“I think that students must, must travel. It opens you up to some very cool personal and professional realizations,” said Christian. “I realized that with the degree I attained at Moraine Park, I could pretty much travel anywhere and, with a little networking, have a job.”
Christian is enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Psychology program and will also be studying German. With his global network underway, Christian already has a competitive advantage.
“The true lesson is when students return to the U.S.,” said Daugherty. “Students appreciate the access to opportunities and are able to recognize these opportunities from a new perspective.”
“It is a cool feeling to know that the world is not as big as we always make it seem,” said Christian.
To read more on Christian’s trip and other study abroad experiences, check out Moraine Park’s International Education blog at morainepark.edu/stayconnected. For more information on Moraine Park’s study abroad opportunities, visit morainepark.edu/programs-and-courses/study-abroad, or call the International Education office at 920-926-3163.