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Study abroad program reason for discontinuation

There’s a reason not many students know that Palomar College once had a study abroad program. It has been discontinued for the past five years.

Even before the program was shut down in 2009, college officials had canceled classes before in the spring and summer of 2002.

Palomar cancelled classes citing concerns with security and student safety. These cancellations coincided with the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, according to a San Diego Union Tribune article.

The world languages department website shows that these trips consisted of 4-6 week programs in Egypt, France, Mexico, Spain and many other countries. Through these programs, students were able to gain insight into the lives of others by residing in the homes of host families and living in new cultures and environments.

“So many college students are so closed minded about everything. A study abroad program will give them a multiculturally broader view on peoples day to day lives,” Sophomore Allie Denton said.

However, safety and security concerns then were still prevalent amongst faculty and the district within the years leading up to California’s fiscal crisis hit in 2008 according to Berta Cuaron, Palomar’s vice president of instruction.

With the reduced funding from the state, Cuaron disclosed that Palomar’s legislature re-examined the cost and decided the money could be used better in other programs that would benefit the larger student body. As a result the program was phased out in 2009.

From the lack of these programs students were left with Palomar’s participation in the Southern California Foothills Consortium for Study Abroad as a source for immersing in a foreign learning experience.

Dr. Kathleen Shehan, world languages chairperson and Spanish professor, said the advantages of the program is the opportunity to be immersed in a particular environment and forced to speak the language. It puts the skills a student was taught in the classroom to test and makes for a more positive learning experience.

“There are definitely advantages (in) doing (study abroad programs), unfortunately when you stop doing something like this you lose momentum and getting it going again is going to take some work,” Shehan said.

Shehan noted that the consortium was founded in partnership with the late George Pesacreta, one of Palomar’s former World Languages chairman, where local colleges combined resources to provide the opportunity for students to enroll in semester-long programs abroad in Salamanca and London through a host college which is currently Citrus College.

In 2012 Palomar re-examined its partnership in the consortium and found that the loss of faculty members from the college to the program, the quality and rigor of instruction, and the units being allocated were all resources and concerns better left within the district.

Cuaron states that a possible return of the program would be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

“There is a lot of value in (the study abroad program) and we would have to do pretty significant changes and procedures not just here but wherever that study abroad program is,” Cuaron said.

Palomar administrators would look at the quality of instruction given, student safety and if the costs were reasonable for both the district and the students on these cases.


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