Dr. Cecile Garmon planned to visit the United Kingdom this May with Department of Communication students, yet her study abroad program has since been canceled. The aforementioned trip would have run from May 18th through May 31st. The trip promised to be valuable as students would have had the opportunity to choose specific areas in politics, art, social structure, religion, and history in an effort to examine the aspects of British leadership communication reflected in those fields. “We had some unique experiences planned,” Dr. Garmon explained, “such as a private tour of Parliament with an interview with a sitting member of Parliament.” The cancellation comes as a disappointment to Dr. Garmon who is no stranger to study abroad programs. “I have taken students to study abroad for nearly 40 years,” she said, recalling trips to Spain, Mexico, England, France and Scotland.
Though the trip offered a shorter stay compared to Study Abroad programs like Harlaxton and Semester at Sea, Dr. Garmon recognizes the value of shorter trips overseas. “The shorter visits are easier to schedule. Students and faculty are all very busy and a shorter trip can provide a great variety of experiences.” Dr. Garmon also admits that shorter stays allow less time to become acclimated to the culture, which creates a need for strong programs. Though shorter trips abroad are cheaper, she does speculate that financial burdens led to the lack of participation in the program. On a positive note, Dr. Garmon thinks that in the spirit of becoming a university with international reach, the array of Study Abroad programs that WKU offers has increased competition between the programs themselves as they seek to recruit students.
Dr. Garmon has not relented on stressing the importance of study abroad programs, despite the cancellation. She believes that Communication majors specifically have more room to send their talents abroad than other disciplines and while the lessons they learn in the U.S. are valuable, actual cross cultural adventures abroad are vital. Dr. Garmon commented, “We can talk about it extensively in class, but there is no substitute for the actual experience.” The setback has not put any damper on Dr. Garmon’s yearning to travel, and while there are no Study Abroad programs on her agenda in the near future, she plans to go overseas very soon.