Business and communications course brings students abroad

By Tristan Leach

Studying abroad is a popular choice for many college students. There is never a shortage of places to go thanks to Rider’s Office of International Education and the professors who wish to take their students on trips. Now students have a new course to choose from: Tourism Business and Communication.

In this course, students will learn how communication and business make up a majority of the tourism industry. The class is a cross-examination of how tourism functions and varies from country to country. In this course, students will travel to Italy and Slovenia, a perfect comparison according to the professors teaching the class.

The class was brought to life by three professors in the communication and business departments, Allison Weidhaas, Cynthia Newman and Drew Procaccion. Each professor wanted to lead a study abroad program for their students and found that combining two existing classes at Rider would make for a new and exciting study abroad experience.

Newman, a professor of marketing, said, “I’ve been doing student study tours for a very long time; this is my 20th year leading student study tours, and I’ve been friends and colleagues with Drew for more than that. Drew was always saying to me ‘How do I get in on that’ and finally we were having dinner one night … and I was like ‘Drew, do you wanna do a study tour?’ and Drew said ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Great, let’s do one together.’”

Not only will this be Procaccion’s first study abroad but also Weidhaas’s. Both smiled with excitement when talking about the new program they worked on. The two had thought about leading a tour for a while, but felt nervous going alone while supervising 20 or more students.

One of the most exciting aspects of this course is that students can take the class regardless of their major. The class is based on the trip and students will be able to meet with their fellow travelers beforehand. Most assignments will be based on what students see when abroad so they can get a sense as to why these places are so popular amongst tourists.

Weidhaas, an associate professor in the Department of Communication, Journalism and Media said, “This class came from a couple of different directions. I wanted to offer a travel course in communication for some time, and I explored it several times. I guess I’ve always been a little nervous about taking students abroad for the first time.”

Weidhaas had been planning on visiting Italy and was happy to find out that Newman and Procaccion had the same thought. Students have the advantage of learning about tourism from both a communications and business perspective. They can also earn credits in communication, business or both.

Procaccion, an associate professor of information systems said, “I’m the spreadsheet guy. I’ll be crunching any numbers and doing any of the administrative stuff.” The goal is to gather data about tourism and how a pre-COVID-19 world compares to a current COVID-19 world in regards to the global impact on the business.

Several activities have been planned for the course. These include a walking tour of Venice, seeing castles in Slovenia, climbing mountains, taking a boat ride to see a church built in the middle of a lake and exploring caves. “There’s something for everybody,” Procaccion said with a smile.

While many students are excited by the idea of the trip, there is one thing that holds them back — the cost. Luckily, the Office of International Education offers scholarships and allows students to apply their financial aid to the trip.

“I know that’s what students look at when I announce this in class. They look at that price and they go ‘well it looks like fun, but I don’t have that money,’” Procaccion said.

As the school year comes to an end it is time to look toward the next one. Students look to the next fun-filled opportunity and some may add studying abroad to their checklist of experiences.

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