Experiences abroad prepared alum for International Education Director positions
Like many seniors, Giancarlo was unsure of what he was going to do after graduating from Beloit College in 1992. While majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Nationalism (self-designed), his advisor recommended volunteering with the Peace Corps. For the first two and a half years post graduation, Giancarlo established gardens along the Sahara and literacy projects in schools in the Republic of Niger through his focus on environmental conservation and agriculture. This experience informed Giancarlo about issues with the sustainability of international development programs, leading him toward international education instead. After his time in the Peace Corps, Giancarlo completed a Master’s in International Education through the School for International Training (SIT).
From here, Giancarlo became an international education coordinator and director at a variety of institutions ranging from program providers to universities and community colleges. The differences in size, funding, and the backgrounds of learners at these institutions created a variety of challenges when developing study abroad programs; depending on the school, the cost and breadth of programs would have to change to include and engage students effectively. This improved his abilities to adapt to and resolve challenges. Now, Giancarlo works as the Director of International Programs for the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts at San Diego State University.
Reflecting on the question, “How has Beloit prepared you for post-graduation opportunities?” Giancarlo reminisced on the support he had academically and socially. Cultural anthropology theories and coursework on the West’s impact on non-Western countries provided a foundation to critically think about international education and development. His experiences abroad in Florence, Italy in his junior year and while working with the Peace Corps exposed him to the importance of international education and relations. Socially, Giancarlo’s role as RA for French House and inclusion in the International Student Club events and community helped broaden his perspectives on ideologies and cultures. These opportunities have taught him that people should value and learn from each other. We should negate the American notion that we are at the center of everything for others to learn from–different communities can teach us new ways of learning, thinking, and improving.
For students contemplating study abroad, Giancarlo encourages them to take the leap! Students should think about the long-term benefits of studying abroad in an increasingly global market: “How are we going to engage with the world long-term?” Jobs are becoming more international and intercultural. Studying abroad can provide experience and skill development vital for these jobs like understanding multiple perspectives, intercultural competency, language development, etc. While at Beloit and abroad, Giancarlo urges students to “reach out, be open, and seek out those opportunities.”