by Brandon Thrope
Kevin Gschwend has been the vice president for student and faculty development for Manhattan College since January of 2016. His duties are to manage the operations of the study abroad program.
The college offers many study abroad programs over a wide spectrum. It offers semester-long programs during the fall and spring, short-term programs during winter and summer intercession, and third party programs to places like Australia.
Gschwend attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for his undergraduate career, where he was a music major. International music peaked his interest and inspired him to do volunteer work in South Africa. Gschwend noted the power of music and how it can relate to educating others about, and protesting, human rights abuses.
“The volunteer trip to South Africa was when I realized I wanted to do something in cross-cultural education” Gschwend said.
Gschwend is excited about working at MC, as he prefers to work in an academic environment. He has many administrative goals he is looking to accomplish as the head of the study abroad program. He would like to make the office “fully-functional” as well as acquiring more resources to expand the locations of study abroad trips.
About 220 students on average decide to study abroad each year at MC. That number has been rising with interest in study abroad growing.
“We have a smaller student population interested in Asia and South America, but I think there are really great opportunities out there for other programs,” Gschwend said.
Gschwend has expressed to the college’s administration that study abroad can be a big part of the college experience and looks to press them for more attention on the department.
The values one can gain from studying abroad include a new perspective, increased self-confidence, and even career-building opportunities.
“There is a different way of thinking that all over the world,” Gschwend said.
Kevin Ahern supports the importance of study abroad. Ahern is an assistant professor of religious studies at the college and “President of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS-Pax Romana), an international network of students in over eighty countries,” according to his biography page on the Manhattan College website.
“Much of my family have studied or lived abroad. My parents always said that travel is an investment in education. In our global context, having an experience of different cultures really matters and makes you a critical thinking. Those hiring for jobs are looking for people like that,” Ahern said. “I lived in Paris for four years and feel connected to that other global city. When I lived there, I traveled to dozens of countries. My visits to work with young people in the Middle East really captured my heart.”
Sarah Lang, a women’s lacrosse player in her senior year at MC, did not have the chance to study abroad during her years at the college but still recognizes the significance of gaining a new perspective.
“Studying abroad is really important, especially to have new experiences. Learning the diversity of other cultures puts things into perspective especially if you have stayed in one place your whole life. It’s beneficial and really cool to be able to go to places that are not familiar. It is great to gain these types of new experiences early on,” Lang said.