Mission Statement: The Baja Program Committee provides advice in all aspects of the Baja Field Studies Program.
Current Members: Anna Grygoruk (Senate), Alexandria Pivovaroff (Guild), Javier Gago (Joint Faculty, Chair, Baja Studies Program Co-Director), Laura Matsumoto (Joint Faculty), Simon Mirzayan (Joint Faculty), Julie Gamberg (Joint Faculty), Joanna Parypinski (Joint Faculty), Gerardo Monterrubio (Joint Faculty), Sarah White (CSEA), Agnes Eguaras (Administration), Shirak Karabedian (ASGCC); Maggie Guyumdzhyan (ASGCC), Maria Kretzmann (Resource, Baja Studies Program Co-Director)
The Baja Program is held at Glendale Community College’s Field Station, located approximately 400 miles south of the San Diego border in a town called Bahía de Los Angeles (on the Gulf coast of the Baja California Peninsula). Its bay and nearby islands are known for great biodiversity and thus are protected by Mexican law and designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
After a hiatus due to the pandemic, GCC classes returned to the field station in summer 2022, when programs in marine biology and natural history were offered. This past winter a class in marine mammals was offered. Students are currently being recruited for the 2023 summer programs in marine biology and natural history.
The Baja Program committee often reviews course proposals submitted by inventive GCC faculty. In the past year, the committee has heard from Laura Matsumoto, who would like to offer a soccer conditioning course (complete with local scrimmages), and Geri Ulrey, who is working on a documentary film-making course with a field station component. Other faculty interested in teaching in Baja include Gerardo Monterrubio, who wants to teach a ceramics class that incorporates the use of techniques from local artisans, and David Yamamoto, who would like to offer a photography class.
The committee also reviews proposals from academic institutions outside of GCC. Recently, with great excitement, the committee learned of a new – and likely long-term – user of the Baja facility: The Ocean Discovery Institute (ODI), a non-profit organization in San Diego that introduces under-represented inner-city youth to scientific research in Bahía de Los Angeles. Besides ODI, Dr. Frank Black from Westminster College in Utah has used the field station to teach a geology/oceanography class. Finally, this summer and fall, Cuesta Community College will offer a marine biology course, and The Grauer School will once again offer their community service program to its high school students. At the next committee meeting, the field station report will include all the work required to repair and rebuild the station facilities after recent hurricane damage. The committee will also discuss their expressed interest in organizing a staff trip to the station.
Javier Gago, Chair of the Baja Program Committee and Co-Director of the Baja Program, shares these comments, “This field station is open to be used by all GCC faculty. Maria [Kretzmann, Co-Director,] and I would like to invite GCC faculty to offer courses at the field station and we will be happy to help with all the necessary logistics.”
If you have an idea for a course you would like to offer at the Baja Field Station or would like to attend the next Baja Program Committee meeting, please contact Javier Gago at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please go to Baja Field Program for more information on the Field Station and programs offered.
Mission Statement: The primary goal of the Glendale Community College Study Abroad Program is to provide international educational opportunities and encourage the internationalization of campus-wide curricula for a diverse student population. The program helps students achieve their educational and career goals by:
Current Members: Cameron Hastings (Senate), Zohara Kaye (Guild), Darren Leaver (Joint Faculty, Chair, Study Abroad Director), Paul Sherman (Joint Faculty), Alison Johnson (Joint Faculty), Nusha Shishegar (CSEA), Agnes Eguaras (Administration), Areg Hovhannisyan (ASGCC), Lilit Sarkisian (ASGCC).
Over the past 3 years, the Study Abroad Committee has focused on adjusting to the travel restrictions of the pandemic and then transitioning to the post-pandemic world. This included the constant monitoring of travel restrictions, vaccination requirements and border closures. During the height of the pandemic, the committee authored recommendations for health & safety issues and risk management solutions for once travel became possible again. To reflect these updated recommendations and policies, the committee has continually updated the Study Abroad operations manual.
Many foreign vendors, hotels, and transportation companies closed during the pandemic or changed operations in order to survive. For example, long-standing student accommodation in Rome converted from short-term use to long-term rentals; thus, the program can no longer use this excellent property. After extensive research and site visits, it became apparent that alternative accommodations in Rome proved either too expensive or were not centrally-located. Therefore, the committee sourced new accommodations for Study Abroad programs with short hotel stays in Rome but with our base of operations in Bologna, Italy, which provides easy access to the nearby cities of Florence, Verona, and Ravenna. As international borders reopened, the committee encountered similar issues in New Zealand, Australia, Spain, and Bali, Indonesia. In the case of Bali, international arrivals dwindled from millions per year pre-pandemic to a low of 45 international visitors in 2021. With little to no income, many businesses and accommodations went bankrupt during this time. As the border has opened up, the committee has identified new accommodations, but their proprietors are recapturing lost revenue through higher prices. This is happening in all of study abroad locations. A lot of committee effort has been spent identifying accommodations and locking in contracts early enough to provide students with affordable programs.
Another current difficulty in restarting the program has been that some student participants remain hesitant to travel. Every pre-pandemic study abroad participant transferred or graduated from GCC during the pandemic, so there are currently no former participants who can share their enthusiasm and experience with classmates on campus. Thus, many current GCC students are largely unaware of the benefits and affordability of studying abroad with GCC. The committee has addressed this by applying for and being awarded a generous grant from the GCC Foundation to provide scholarships to approximately 50 regularly-enrolled GCC student participants, which will substantially reduce the cost of their participation in a GCC study abroad program in 2023.
Nevertheless, the committee successfully shepherded the first post-pandemic program in summer 2022, when 22 students traveled to Nantes and Paris, France to take courses in Humanities (Piper Rooney) and French Field Studies (Sarah Mecheneau). This was followed in Winter 2023 with a program of 22 students to Bologna, Italy with coursework in Italian Field Studies (Flavio Frontini). At the end of each program the students complete an anonymous survey to provide feedback on the program’s pre-departure information, the program facilities, accommodations, transportation, field activities, instruction, program management, and their own personal growth from the experience. The Study Abroad Committee reviews the surveys and provides recommendations for improvement for future program instruction and destinations.
With eagerness and excitement, GCC faculty continue to propose courses for Study Abroad. The committee has approved the following programs for Summer 2023:
And the committee has approved the following programs for 2024:
This spring, the Study Abroad Committee will receive and assess faculty proposals for Winter 2025 programs. The committee will shepherd approved programs through the design process to implementation in the international destinations, increase participation from broad student populations across the campus and community, and pursue continued financial support from the GCC Foundation and other sources. With GCC students, the committee will also identify funding sources such as scholarship and grants, update the Study Abroad Manual, and continue to monitor the ever-changing travel landscape and implement risk management and health & safety protocols.
Darren Leaver, Chair of the Study Abroad Committee and the Study Abroad Director, shares these comments: “Teaching on a GCC study abroad program allows faculty members to share their area expertise as it relates to the geographic destination, and to share their newly acquired knowledge upon their return to the campus. Because the faculty members participate in all the field trips, museum visits, workshops and other program activities and are available 24/7 to help deal with the unique challenges and issues of these 2-week to 5-week programs, program faculty get to know students very well, but it comes at the cost of being quite exhausted by the end of the program. That said, the faculty members' travel costs (flights, accommodations, program activities, etc.) are covered by the program, so study abroad is an awesome option for those willing to take on the associated responsibilities.”
If you have an idea for a course you would like offer through the Study Abroad Program or would like to attend the next Study Abroad Committee meeting, please contact Darren Leaver at email@example.com. Please go to Study Abroad Program for more information.
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