First-Generation Abroad returns following two-year hiatus

Participating students will travel to Rome, Seville in May

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COURTESY OF FIRST GEN ABROAD

Students in the First-Gen Abroad program are traveling to Seville, Spain or Rome in May.

PUNEET BSANTI

After a two-year hiatus, First-Generation Abroad returned with first-generation students leaving for Seville, Spain and Rome. 

The program was put on pause because of the pandemic but was restarted this year. With students getting some financial support, First-Gen hopes this will be a safe, exciting and educational trip, said First-Gen Director Angie Klimko.

“This is a great start for some of those that aren’t willing to do a full semester. You have five weeks to get to be comfortable, gain the confidence and the ability to navigate a different culture,” Klimko said. 

First-Gen is exclusively for first-generation students, and for this summer, students who signed up had to choose between Rome or Seville, she said. As part of the program, students have to take classes that are intentionally chosen by First-Gen to help with the study abroad experience. 

“When they’re abroad, they’re able to see these amazing works of art and architecture, cultures and neighborhoods and really understand the local culture at a whole new level where they get to experience through walking classrooms,” Klimko said. 

Students who are in need of financial aid during this trip are able to receive it through various scholarships and grants that First-Gen offers, she said.

“It’s very intentional to keep the cost affordable, but also providing resources for them to be able to fill in the gaps,” Klimko said. 

Sarah Marotti, freshman business management major, said she is going to Rome and was awarded a scholarship from the Carson Center by an anonymous donor, which helped her and her family financially.

“I know myself and all the other students going with me feel extremely blessed to have gotten this opportunity. And thanks to Angie and Karina and all the other First-Gen people, they really made our dreams come true,” Marotti said.

Marotti said she had the opportunity to meet others in her cohort who are also going to Rome through a one-credit class that meets every week to prepare them for the trip. 

“It’s hard because it’s over Zoom since we have students on other [WSU] campuses. We made a group chat and we’ve been talking and trying to meet up,” she said. 

First-generation students from the other WSU campuses can study abroad with First-Gen, Klimko said.

This summer, about 35 students will be participating in the First-Gen study abroad program, she said. 

“We’re always looking to expand as well. So, there were many years that our DACA students or undocumented students were not able to travel. That is a very intense process to get students the ability to travel, but we are working hard to try and make that happen in the future,” Klimko said. 

Klimko said it is exciting to run two study abroad programs after COVID-19 and let students know they are back. 

“This is something that is available, and it is affordable, and we’ll work with them to understand that and give them all the options,” she said.