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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Study abroad programs strengthen ties

Wednesday, October 24, 2007  
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By Ryan Holly

The faculty, staff and students of Oklahoma Christian University and Cascade College have many ways to bridge the geographical gap between the two sister schools. One bridge takes the form of study abroad programs.

“The study abroad program is probably the best link between the campuses. It is the only program that provides a meaningful link for the students,” Academic Dean of Cascade College and previous study abroad sponsor Shawn Jones said.

Students who have been a part of these programs keep up the relationships that stretch across campuses.

“I have seen some very meaningful relationships form because of the connections made on these journeys. Some students have even switched campuses to more closely maintain meaningful relationships,” Jones said.

Oklahoma Christian and Cascade students travel together on study abroad programs.

Sometimes this abrupt union can be tense before it develops into a family relationship.

“I was nervous meeting the girls from Cascade because we were going to be spending over six weeks together, but I knew that God had a reason for bringing us together. They were all very sweet, and we quickly became friends. It was only a week into our trip that we seemed like family,” Oklahoma Christian sophomore and Vienna Summer 2007 participant Whitney Edmondson said.

Oklahoma Christian and Cascade are different in certain aspects. This diversity does not separate the campuses but instead unites them into a spiritual community.

“A hand and a foot differ greatly, yet they are of the same body. To relate any two people together is not always as easy as stating their difference. Yet we schools are of the same body, similarities and differences alike,” Cascade junior and Pac Rim 2006 participant Luke Martin said.

Oklahoma Christian students are not as aware of Cascade as Cascade students are of Oklahoma Christian. Oklahoma Christian students have the opportunity to learn about and enrich the relationship between the two campuses.

“I think that simply talking about Cascade more would help people become more aware of Cascade. When I visit home, it seems like everyone at Cascade knows about OC, but at OC, I get a blank stare and then have to explain that OC does have a sister school in the Northwest,” Oklahoma Christian sophomore and Vienna Summer 2007 participant Alyssa Beekman said.

There are many study abroad programs focused on learning about different countries. There is now a study abroad program between Oklahoma Christian and Cascade College.

“Allowing students to spend a semester or so at one another’s school adds an element of ‘sisterhood’ that is not present at other universities and colleges,” Martin said. “By increasing the relationship through this cross study program, Cascade students will have an opportunity to study at a higher populated school and discover the benefits OC has to offer, as well as OC students having the opportunity of diving into the culture of the Northwest and finding the intimacy of students shared at a smaller school.”

The partnership between Oklahoma Christian and Cascade is currently breaking free from its slow beginnings.

“Historically, we have had very few connections that are unique to the campuses. We have not capitalized on our combined university ties,” Jones said.

However, campus administrators are working to improve this.

“With the new distance learning technology connecting the campuses, we are providing more ways to be united. Dr. Garrett has been very proactive in making sure we are more connected than ever,” Jones said.

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