Tracking flight deals, coordinating tickets, ensuring passports are in hand, developing relationships with in-country partners, discovering best deals for lodging and dining for groups of 15-20, arranging in-country transportation, working through an itinerary that is both educational and entertaining and staying within a low-cost budget are just some of the challenges that prevent high schools and universities from developing a global studies program.
Dresden-based Global Citizen Adventure Corps is therefore a one-stop-shop especially for Title 1 schools who have a majority of low-income students and Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) where grant monies are typically focused primarily on students’ experience inside their walls with little time or personnel left over to encourage global experiences.
In 2023, GCAC signed an inaugural memorandum of understanding with Weakley County Schools, acknowledging a relationship that has informally existed for 12 years with GCAC founder Stacie Freeman and setting the stage for expansion and possible alignment with courses and clubs.
“I already teach dual enrollment classes at Weakley County Schools and through my work at Bethel Global Studies have offered first-come, first-served options for students from those schools for years. GCAC scholarships and this new agreement mean that we have an entre to educate the educators about the benefits of travel, work with them on how our programs can enhance their classes, and add more students on our programs,” she explained.
Betsi Foster, Assistant Director of Weakley County Schools, sees the new arrangement as a positive forward step.
“We educators know that there is no better teacher than experience. GCAC and its donors remove barriers and provide unmatchable learning experiences for students who may never have those opportunities otherwise,” she noted.
Conversations regarding similar MOUs are in process with several Carroll County schools.
Thanks to the relational networking of GCAC board members Joyce Washington and Christine Fox, GCAC has also laid the foundation for an initial three-year relationship with Lane College in Jackson and a one-year MOU with Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis. A late spring meeting with Lane President Logan Hampton prompted an overwhelmingly positive response and plans to travel in 2024 are underway. MTS students have already participated in two programs and planning meetings are scheduled for this fall.
“HBCUs are great partners for GCAC as we seek to fulfill our mission,” said Co-founder Julie Hill. “Research shows that not only do underrepresented students perceive themselves as more open minded and autonomous after engaging in a study abroad program, but they also report stronger feelings of being better prepared to solve problems and understand global matters. Through our GCAC scholarships, we make such experiences accessible to anyone who is interested, regardless of their socioeconomic status or if they are a first-generation college student or from a racial/ethnic minority.”
The grant committee is currently investigating potential funding partners who indicate interest in supporting innovative programs specifically with HBCUs.
In photo: GCAC Co-Founder Stacie Freeman meets and greets freshmen at Lane College. Seen here with Dr Erin Holliday-Karre, Chair of English Department at Lane, Stacie says that the GCAC information station received lots of interest, and she is excited to see where the new MOU will take the growing GCAC program.