By FRANCESCA MAYR ’16
Photography CHRISTINA YEE ’14
Students bobbed their heads in time to world-beat music while perusing display tables along the Walk of Pride at Preview Kickoff. The colorful, crowded event provided a first look at Preview 2013 destinations—a whopping 19 locations around the world!—and an opportunity to quiz faculty on their course topics and itineraries.
Arcadia University’s Preview program, which was recently featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, sends first-year and transfer students to all corners of the globe during spring break in search of knowledge, artistry, culture, unexpected connections. And the course line-up unveiled at Kickoff was absolutely enticing. Jewel-toned silks from China lay in tantalizing piles, tempting the adventurous to embark on a journey to Xi-an. A laptop ran video footage of service-leaning in Puebla, Mexico, while a pair of professors exchanged ideas in French. All told, Preview 2013 includes 20 different credit-bearing courses that begin in classrooms on campus before launching into the world. (View updated course descriptions.)
More impressive than the table presentations, however, were all the upperclassmen on hand, taking the time to discuss travels past. It was clear from overhearing these Preview vets speak with new students that the week they spent abroad inspired changes in them and how they have gone about life on campus ever since. I was reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
Arcadia certainly encourages students to carry these remarkable experiences with them. “I think it was a fantastic opportunity,” said Rachel Weaver ’15, who traveled to Paris for Preview her first year. “I had never been off the east coast, so it was an especially great experience… It was awesome. Just awesome.” (View photos from Preview 2012 on Pinterest.)
Moved by her Preview experience, Lucy McGrath ’14 advised new students to take advantage of the opportunity. She credits the program with cultivating her love of travel and with giving her a more comprehensive world view. “Before Preview, I never had the opportunity to travel but always felt called to it,” she said. “But on Preview, I was able to preview the life of exploration I lead today.”
“Preview builds community on campus,” said Jan Finn, Associate Dean of International Affairs, whose staff is instrumental in coordinating the program. “It creates an awareness of something so totally different than oneself, but at the same time so similar.” Finn emphasized how the program creates cultural experts on campus and shifts perspectives in a profound way that spills over into the Arcadia community as a whole.
Along with International Affairs staff, Arcadia’s professors power Preview. Each has an electric passion for their field and the ability to make global issues personal, relatable. Dr. Sandra Hordis, Director of International Academic Programs, was among the faculty on hand. She will lead the course “Archaeology and the Classical Culture of Storytelling,” which includes a week of study in to Athens, Greece. Hordis plans to use her background in medieval literature to help Preview-goers understand Grecian literature and culture and how it relates to modern culture. “Here we are at Arcadia,” she said. “The word ‘Arcadia’ is Greek. Here we are in Philadelphia. The word ‘Philadelphia’ is Greek. Greek culture is all around us.”
Ours is a culture comprised of many. Kickoff attendees carried on reminded of this fact, excited to understand a bit more, taking those first steps toward informing themselves so they might ultimately inspire others.