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When Jenika Scott was ready for her Spring 2019 Semester, the Essex County College student opted to head south, about 4,800 miles south. Jenika, from East Orange, took full advantage of the College’s study abroad program and spent the semester in Brazil.
“I saw information about the program and took a real close look into it,” said Jenika, a Social Sciences major. Jenika was the College’s first student to study abroad for an entire semester.
The program is offered through the College’s partner CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange). ECC’s Center for Global Education and Experiences (CGEE) spearheads the College’s efforts to internationalize the curriculum and create globalizing opportunities for students, working closely with CIEE.
After Dr. Akil Khalfani, director of the CGEE, explained the various study abroad options, Jenika settled on one destination in South America as opposed to a multi-country trip. “I decided it would be best to focus on Brazil and I’m certainly glad I did. I fell in love with the cultural and the dances. Every new dance I saw I learned. It was an amazing experience.”
Jenika stayed with a Brazilian family in Rio de Janeiro while attending classes in an open campus setting with fellow students from around the world. She also found time to explore. “I had only seen Brazil through pictures and the movies, so it was a bit overwhelming.” An added bonus was that she stayed close to the beach, something to which she took full advantage.
But while Jenika enjoyed absorbing the culture of Brazil, learning Portuguese and making a lot of new friends, she was foremost a student and not a tourist. So between January 7 and May 11, she still took 18 college credits, spread out over a trimester schedule.
Jenika’s course load included Portuguese, Political Science and Sustainable Agriculture.
Jenika chronicled her study abroad experiences in a series of blogs. Her trip blog can be read here: https://www.ciee.org/users/jenikascott
One highlight of Jenika’s journey was her opportunity to experience the Carnival of Brazil. “When you go there, it’s practically an out of body experience,” she recalled. “The neighborhood was really hoping.”
As she reflects back on her semester abroad, Jenika definitely wants to return to Brazil. “I was around such warm and friendly people throughout my stay.”
For now, Jenika continues her Essex County College studies with an eye on transferring to Rutgers University where she plans on majoring in Global Studies.
To date, 10 Essex County College students have traveled for shorter stays to Cuba, France and Germany in July. Previously, the College’s Africana Institute led trips to Ghana and South Africa.
Earlier this year, CGEE was able to assist 50 students in securing free passports. Dr. Khalfani said that students have been awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships and grants from CIEE to help pay for the trips.