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Shepherd’s?study abroad encourages involvement

By Staff | Feb 24, 2012

Study abroad opportunities at Shepherd University are typically thought of as trips primarily geared toward students. While this is true for the most part, there are several travel opportunities that accept, and in fact encourage, community involvement from Shepherdstown residents and others.

Dr. Gordon DeMeritt, chair of the Shepherd University business department, has led spring break study abroad trips for the past several years that have allowed many community members to participate and see the world. In the past, DeMeritt has helped coordinate excursions to India, China and Russia, and will be taking a group to China again this March. The business department often collaborates with the political science department to organize the travel opportunities.

The trips themselves are typically 8-10 days long and take place over spring break. DeMeritt added that the department incorporates visiting business enterprises as an important aspect of the trips, but “we certainly don’t ignore the vast cultural aspects of each country we visit.”

“These trips help open up opportunities to travel for community members, who might otherwise not get such an opportunity,” DeMeritt claimed. Because many Shepherdstown, Martinsburg and surrounding area residents are combined in a travel group with Shepherd students during the trips, it creates a unique and interesting opportunity for community members to get a study abroad-style experience.

“They often find it rejuvenating to travel and be around college kids,” DeMeritt explained of the community members that have traveled with him and the school in the past. DeMeritt has received very positive feedback from non-students who have participated in the spring break trips, with several people participating in multiple travel opportunities over the years.

Bringing in members of the community to travel along with students and faculty of Shepherd has helped with the financial aspects of making the trips possible as well.

“Community involvement has helped keep the costs down,” DeMeritt said, mentioning that larger groups can help curb the individual cost that each person pays for the trip. Community members pay the same price to travel as Shepherd students pay, so no extra obligation is burdened on non-student travelers.

This year, four non-student community members will be going to China in March. Journeys to Brazil in March 2013 and Italy in May 2013 are already being planned.

DeMeritt and the business department highly encourage anyone from the community and surrounding area to consider participating with the university on the spring break trips.

To inquire more about these travel opportunities, Dr. Gordon DeMeritt can be contacted by e-mail at gdemeritt@shepherd.edu.