Article - Office of College Advancement

Fewer at Ohlone signing up to study abroad

Deadline Friday for semester of study in Bangalore, India

By Todd R. Brown, Staff writer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—This summer, Ohlone College is offering its first semester in India. The program includes a week in the Golden Triangle of New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur before enrollees ship off to classes in Bangalore.

But with a wobbly U.S. economy, officials are not sure whether enough students will be able to plunk down checks for the estimated $4,900 trip to make it happen.

Applications are due Friday for the two-month program, scheduled to start June 1.

Many students have shown interest in the trip, but few have signed up, said Kay Harrison, Ohlone's study abroad coordinator and a longtime communications professor.

"We just thought India would be a really hot ticket," the Belmont resident said. "Whenever the economy takes a dip, then people get more concerned about whether they want to spend the money."

The cost is comparable to paying for a semester at a prime university—something that might not readily be apparent, Harrison said. For example, she said, the per-semester fee for a resident undergrad at the University of California, Berkeley, is about $4,200, excluding room and board.

"Community college is such a good deal. You're living at home," Harrison said. "I think people forget how much it costs to travel."

The slowing economy has affected other trips abroad, Harrison said. For example, high costs related to the Beijing Olympics helped snuff out a planned summer semester in China, she said. And the weeklong "Theatre Class in London and a Visit to Paris" is still set to begin in late July—but spots are filling up more slowly than before, she said.

"The dollar's just too weak right now," Harrison said.

Tom Blank, an Ohlone theater professor who inaugurated the trips to Europe about nine years ago, said economic worries are taking a toll on the class, which so far has about a dozen takers and five open spots.

"This year was more difficult to pull together," said Blank, a San Mateo resident.

Those who do sign up for the European trip likely will catch a Shakespeare performance at the Bard's fabled Globe Theatre, among other opportunities. Blank said nonthespians are welcome.

Students who manage to pool enough rupees for the India trip can study anthropology, business, Asian religions and travel journaling.

Of the latter, Harrison said: "It's trying to hone your observational skills and relate what you've learned about the culture. Not only is it a record of where you've been and what you've seen, but your reactions to it—a priceless thing to have and look back at."

Harrison said she led the first Ohlone semester abroad in 1990, to Stratford-Upon-Avon, England. Although she won't be going to Bangalore, she advised travel journaling students to read such scribes as V.S. Naipaul, who is Indian-Trinidadian and who wrote several nonfiction books about visiting India.

The study-abroad mission has a corollary in Ohlone's efforts to entice students from Asia. College spokeswoman Sarah Daniels said President/Superintendent Douglas Treadway is on a trip to India and China to promote the college.

One group that Harrison said doesn't seem inclined to sign up for classes in India is second-generation Asian Indians from the Bay Area, many of whom have made family trips to the Asian subcontinent.

"They want to go somewhere else," she said.

On the Web: http://www.ohlone.edu/org/studyabroad.

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