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Kean University

From China to Ireland, Kean Students Travel, Learn, Earn Credits and Grow

Travelearn group poses in Costa Rica

Kean University students spent Spring Break in Costa Rica, China, Ireland and other locations around the world, volunteering and studying abroad through the University’s Travelearn program. 

Students from Kean campuses in Union, Ocean County and Kean Online traveled to Costa Rica, where they volunteered at a turtle rescue center and taught English at a research station in the jungle, through the University’s Give Back Abroad internship program.

In Ireland, Kean students took classes on travel writing and immersed themselves in the country’s literary tradition. In London and Paris, a group learned the history of psychology, including visiting the Freud Museum in London.

Still other Travelearn journeys went to the U.S.-Mexico border for a Human Rights trip, where students did service work; and China, where graduate students from the College of Business and Public Management (CBPM) analyzed companies as part of their MBA program.

Group photo with banner in china

“Each Travelearn experience provided different, valuable opportunities to our students,” said Kean Assistant Vice President of Global Initiatives Jessica Goldsmith Barzilay, who led the Costa Rica trip. 

In all, 85 students traveled to five different Travelearn destinations, earning college credits through the experience. All students received scholarships, most totalling $1,500.

“There was constant conversation about the cultures each person came from, whether the discussion was on music, food, education or work. It was amazing to see students bonding,” Barzilay said. “Students depended on each other so much to navigate the new experiences.” 

In Costa Rica, students from Kean Ocean, Union and Kean Online worked together. Students from Kean’s Supera program taught Costa Rican students English, and Kean students, Spanish. 

In China, CBPM Assistant Dean David Farrokh said students visited six companies, analyzing their corporate structure, products, brand marketing and more; met with corporate leaders; and saw assembly line production in action. 

“Students had the opportunity to study entrepreneurship and culture in context,” Farrokh said. 

The group stayed at Wenzhou-Kean University and also visited traditional sites such as West Lake and Leifeng Pagoda. 

Sian Seeger, ’23, a second-year MBA student, said she wanted to study abroad, but due to the pandemic and her commitment to being a student-athlete, couldn’t schedule it until now. 

“I’ve been waiting for the right time to go to our WKU campus, so learning this was our Travelearn, I was ecstatic,” Seeger said, adding that one “extraordinary opportunity” was dining with Wenzhou government officials. “Everything we got to experience is something I will take with me for life.”

In Ireland, students visited Trinity College, where they saw the Book of Kells; and The Irish Writer’s Center, where they heard a lecture from Nicola Brady, an Irish travel writer. 

Kean students pose in Dublin during a Travelearn trip

The students kept travel blogs and are now writing travel articles and a publication proposal, said Department of English Studies Coordinator of College Composition Lisa Sisler, D.Litt., who led the trip with Lecturer Christina Mastroeni.

“The students had to create a travel blog while in Dublin. Many of the posts stated that they had a great time and were making lifelong friends,” Sisler said. “Now that we’re back, they are sharing work from the trip.”

Junior English Education major Samuel Costello, of Linwood, said the trip  was fabulous. 

“I’ve taken classes on British and American Literature and read Russian and Spanish literature, so having the opportunity to get close-up to Irish literature was a welcome opportunity,” Costello said.

English education major Alexa Hopman of Monroe, also a junior, called the trip “the best experience I have ever had.”

“The idea of taking part in travel writing excited me because it brought much of what I was doing in the classroom to life,” she said. “This trip made me a better writer.”