Athena’s Passport Issue #1

Athena’s Passport – The New Must-Have Resource for Everything Int’l Ed!

Athena's Passport: Your Entry Into Our World of Study Abroad
Partner Newsletter | April 30, 2019 | New series issue #1

Extra! Extra!

Athena Named as Finalist for TWO GoAbroad Awards


For the FIFTH YEAR IN A ROW ? Athena has been named a Top 5 Finalist for the GoAbroad People’s Choice Award thanks to nominations by study abroad advisors across the field! This award honors the top international education organizations as selected by study abroad professionals and students.

Thanks to all who nominated us, and we would appreciate if you continued to support us with a vote to be the winner!

Additionally, we have been named a finalist for the new Innovation in Cultural Immersion Award, Sponsored by StudentUniverse, which recognizes an institution, faculty member, program, or program provider that has displayed an innovative approach to cultural immersion. Nominees are evaluated on originality, creativity, and overall success, and we are so proud that the Athena and VCU Globe “Refugee Program in Greece” has been recognized as a finalist for this award.

In this issue…
• Athena a finalist for 2 GoAbroad Awards!

• Athena Launches New Newsletter Format

• Program Highlight: Tour of Italy

• How to: Pack Smartly

• Why Improving Language Skills Often Falls Short

• Athena and VCU Globe in Athens

• Study Abroad in the News

“Athena’s Passport”:
Athena Launches
New Advisor & Faculty Newsletter
This is the first issue of Athena’s Passport, a twice-monthly emailed resource and content-based newsletter published by Athena Study Abroad. It is replacing the monthly emailed newsletter that Athena has published for years for study abroad advisors.
Athena’s Passport is intended to be a useful field-wide resource for study abroad advisors, faculty, and others as it posts feature stories about study abroad programs and people, summaries of and comments on social scientific research about study abroad, news about Athena and other organizations, how-to stories for
students or advisors, Top 10 lists,
links to news media coverage of study abroad, highlights of Athena Study Abroad programs, and more.
Stacy McKay Benander, Athena’s founder and president, said, “The new Athena’s Passport resource is an important part of Athena’s ongoing commitment to creating and disseminating vital and timely information for the betterment of the international education field. We hope you will find this new resource useful,
insightful, thoughtful, and even delightful at times!”

How To: Pack Smartly on Longer Terms Abroad

There are a lot of factors students need to take into consideration when packing for study abroad.

There’s way more to packing than meets the eye, so we’re breaking down the top do’s and don’ts of what and how to pack.

While many of us in the field are expert travelers, we can often mistakenly take for granted that our students know these “best practices” of traveling. This section of Athena’s online Pre-Departure Resources is both a good reminder for us, and a good advising tool for our students.


Students Experienced Greek Refugee Crisis by Volunteering at Athens Nonprofits
A Greek refugee crisis-oriented study abroad customized during spring break 2018, developed by Virginia Commonwealth University’s “VCU Globe” and Athena Study Abroad, has been named a finalist for the new “Innovation in Cultural Immersion” award from GoAbroad.com.

Bringing together students from VCU’s Virginia campus with their Qatar campus, and nicknamed the “Athena/VCU Globe in Greece,” the program offered its participants a unique opportunity to learn about Greek culture, the refugee situation and responses in Greece, and to serve the refugee populations within Athens.

Students devoted about 20 hours of service, hosted by Athena and its refugee crisis partners in Greece, to volunteering with the Pampiraiki Warehouse and City Plaza Refugee Accommodation. Students also took a close look at the development and organization of responses to the refugee crisis through: visits and discussions with a local nonprofit, The Orange House shelter; lecture-based visits to migrant neighborhoods of Athens; and a visit to the US Embassy.

The students’ goal was to understand the culturally specific development of organizations affected by immigrant population needs and local customs, attitudes and values.

Research Explores Why Improving Language Skills Often Falls Short

By Dane Claussen, Ph.D., MBA
Manager of University Relations
Athena Study Abroad

“Linguistic Loneliness and Study Abroad,” by Cynthia Slagter and Marcie J. Pyper was published in the Spring 2019 Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, posted April 24, 2019. Students learning the Spanish language from one college traveled to Spain (93), Peru (60), or Honduras (36) over a three-year period. Data were gathered from surveys and language assessment before and after their study abroad, and interviews after their study abroad. For various reasons, most students had difficulties speaking Spanish as much as they thought they would or should, and their proficiency did not increase as much as they predicted.One reason was that their language skills were too limited to meet their social needs. Students who are hesitant about meeting new people in the USA also will find that as or more difficult in another country using another language.


Slagter and Pyper make several practical recommendations, including discussing relevant research with students who are going abroad and helping students develop skills to talk with (especially asking good questions) of people (Americans and others) they don’t know.

The study’s strengths include use of a modified Language Contact Profile (Freed et al., 2004) and Versant Spanish Test (Pearson), gathering data over three years and about students’ experiences in three countries, from 123 participants.

The study’s weaknesses include self-reported data from students, data about study abroad in only Spanish-speaking countries, and not reporting the interview questions (although reported answers are suggestive). Gathering data about only one college’s students is probably not a limitation of this study (although it could or would be in others).


Program Highlight: Tour of Italy
PROGRAM: For those who want all of Italy Athena offers, the Tour of Italy incredible semester program. You will spend one month in three amazingly different locations. In your spare time in each city, make sure to seize all that each location has to offer. In Tuscania, immerse yourself in the classic Italian countryside & all of its untouched culture. In Rome, get your bucket list ready as you make your way through the bustling Italian capital. In Florence, learn to live like an Italian as you walk the streets where numerous artisan masters have walked before you.

COURSES: Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, Business.

Study Abroad in the News
Athena Study Abroad
169 Main Street
Greenville, Pennsylvania 16125
United States
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