First Year Study Tour

Cheap travel to an out-of-country trip for Spring Break almost never happens! It is usually a lot of money for the plane ticket, food, hotel, and many other things. But not at Gallaudet University! First Year Study Tour (FYST), offered every Spring Break since 2008, gives freshmen and first year transfer students the opportunity to go to Costa Rica.

This program was created to allow college students to become a part of the “global generation,” as Carl Pramuk, the Associate Dean who is also a First Year Study Tour Director, calls it.

“The FYST offers a structured educational opportunity for our students that enhances cultural appreciation and global understanding, ethical tourism, service learning, and exposure to a deaf community (and sign language) outside the United States,” Pramuk stated. “The FYST course compliments the General Studies student learning outcomes of critical thinking, identity and culture, ethics and social responsibility, language and communication, and knowledge and inquiry.”

The First Year Study Tour was created in 2009 as a recruitment and retention initiative but the emphasis is on retention. In 2009, 73 students participated, leading up to 444 students participating so far. Pramuk stated, “Data collected from previous FYST groups has consistently shown that the retention rate for students who attended the FYST was higher than those who did not attend, so the program is successful in this regard.”

Ernest ‘Chad’ Willman and Kellynette Gomez, who attended the 2013 FYST trip, shared their experiences. Both Willman and Gomez felt that the trip was beneficial and has expanded their learning of another culture. The trip taught them to become better travelers—they agreed that they learned something new every day and that it was okay if things did not go as planned. They did not let stress to get to them.

They also agreed that the cost of the trip was worth paying for while saving money and having a rich learning experience. “Yes, the trip to Costa Rica was so much fun!” said Gomez. “The journey had taught me so much about Costa Rican culture, language, and their concern for the environment.”

Willman added “I decided to attend this program because it was quite cheap for a week’s total amount to pay for airfare, accommodations, transportation, and meals. I went to Costa Rica in 2013 when I joined the program and I feel that I would love to visit Costa Rica again with a larger number of friends. I did not regret the trip.”

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