Students studying abroad in Buenos Aires and London can now bring Hillel along for the trip! Starting this semester, Hillel has launched the Global Campus Initiative, which connects visiting study abroad students to their local Jewish peers and programming.
Tara Pokras, a spring 2009 Global Campus Initiative Intern, begins her semester in London.
The Global Campus Initiative (GCI) is a pilot program launching February 2009 in Buenos Aires and London. GCI leverages the pre-existing Hillel infrastructure in these two cities and supplements this with a network of GCI Interns, study abroad students focused on student engagement.
"GCI will provide students with a familiar community of our own while we are far away from home," said Lauren Winowich, a London GCI intern and junior at Emory University.
The launch of GCI reflects a growing trend. "As the number of students studying abroad rises year after year, so does the number of requests we receive from students looking for Jewish opportunities while they’re away from campus," said Hillel Associate Vice President for the International Division Aaron Goldberg. "GCI is great a way for students to experience the familiar during their time in a foreign place and to explore their new cities through a Jewish prism."
GCI London intern Josh Frazer knows how important an opportunity this time is for engaging students in Jewish life. "Whether it is feeling homesick during the Super Bowl, or looking for other Jewish students to celebrate Purim," said Josh, "I know what types of programming is best suited to fit the needs of undergraduate students abroad."
While the exact programs may vary from city to city, GCI opportunities will focus on connecting visiting and local students through Shabbat and holiday observance, tzedek activities, and social events. Activities will be run in partnership with UJS/Hillel in London and Hillel Argentina in Buenos Aires.
"It is important to promote an international Jewish community based on the commonalities that we share," explained Winowich. "I am excited to participate in GCI because it combines my interests of community service, meeting new people and my Jewish upbringing."
Students can connect with each other and learn more about upcoming events in London and Buenos Aires by signing up for the no-obligation GCI listserv. Students can also find GCI on Facebook in London and Buenos Aires.
GCI is being piloted in London and Buenos Aires with the support of the Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation and the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. To learn about Jewish student life in cities other than London and Buenos Aires, contact the World Union of Jewish Students.
Hillel also reminds students and international travelers to use caution when voyaging abroad.
"Educating yourself is the primary goal to safe travel," stressed Rochelle Sobel, founder of the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) which provides country-specific travel advice, specifically targeting study abroad students.
Sobel, a Jewish mother whose son was tragically killed in a bus accident while traveling in Turkey in 1995, created ASIRT to raise awareness of travel hazards and lobby to improve road conditions through partnerships with the United Nations and other international and domestic organizations.
For more travel tips and alerts about destinations around the world, visit ASIRT online.