WSU College of Education to expand study abroad opportunities

COE iconPULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State University College of Education is upping the ante on its commitment to international initiatives by announcing faculty-led study abroad programs this summer to Costa Rica, Japan, and South Korea.

It will be the second straight year the college has had a program in South Korea. It will be the first time for Costa Rica. And, notwithstanding a long history of collaboration and initiatives with Japan, it will also be the first study abroad program to that country.

“We want to increase opportunities for our students to learn about diverse cultures by living and experiencing what it means to be a second language learner, a foreigner in another land, and an observer of new cultural ways and paths,” said Gisela Ernst-Slavit, associate dean for diversity and international programs.

The Costa Rica program will be for kinesiology students. The Japan program will be for students who will teach English as a second language. The Korean program is for sport management students.

Reason for expansion isn’t without merit

A big reason for the expansion in study abroad programs was because of the success of this past summer’s South Korea program.

WSU COE students studying in Seoul last year.
WSU COE students studying in Seoul last year.

“The planning and implementation was top-notch,” said clinical assistant professor Chris Lebens, one of the professors to lead students. “But this year, we expect to do even better because we’ll have stronger bearings, having been there before.”

“Last year was great. But we’re making this trip 10 times better,” said assistant professor Yong Chae Rhee, the other professor to lead the program. “We do learn from our mistakes. We have made a lot of changes to our schedule to fix issues we found.”

Both professors said a huge key to improvement will be using input from last year’s students.

Ernst-Slavit said that’s how it should be.

“I hope that through these experiences, students and faculty in the College of Education will become more engaged in planning and participating in international experiences,” she said. “This will help us continue to develop globally-aware and culturally-competent students, leaders, educators, and scholars. I’m proud of the fact that the College of Education continues to expand its horizons.”

Every program has a purpose. For the sport management students who hope to work in athletics at different levels, it was important to see things from a different viewpoint. Plus, Rhee said it makes good business sense.

“Organizations like the NBA, NFL, and Major League Baseball are all trying to globalize and right now their target is Asian countries,” Rhee said. “Wanting to work in this industry, it was essential for our students to experience this diversity.”


Brandon Chapman, WSU College of Education, 509-335-6850,