2nd Annual CASA Re-Entry Conference Held at UB Supports Study Abroad Students Statewide

2nd Annual CASA Re-Entry Conference Held at UB Supports Study Abroad Students Statewide

Captain of Alternative Spring Break. Student Ambassador of the Purple Knight Society. Executive Secretary of the Student Government Association. Clearly, Khrystian Pereira ’17 – a double major in UB’s International Political Economy and Diplomacy in Asia Pacific Rim Studies and Religion and Politics in Middle East programs – has the energy and ambition to make the most of his college experience. His passion? Traveling the world and mingling with world travelers right here in Bridgeport.

“I am extremely passionate about this school and both of my programs,” says Pereira, who recently attended the 2nd Annual Connecticut Area Study Abroad (CASA) Re-Entry Conference, held on the University of Bridgeport campus. UBecome asked him a few questions on why his passion runs so deep at UB. His responses, along with a recap of the CASA Re-Entry Conference, follows.

1 How Does UB Foster Global Awareness, On Campus And Off?

In my opinion, UB is an international hub in Connecticut. Since becoming a student at the University, I have interacted with people from all around the world, both in and out of the classroom. I can proudly say that because of how diverse this University is, my group of friends is a mix of many different backgrounds – Venezuela, India, China, Japan, Haiti, Germany, Italy, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Ecuador, Brazil, and the occasional American too!

As a student of the College of Public and International Affairs, we are always given opportunities to learn more about the world, and not just our neck of the woods.

2 Do You Feel Like “UBelong” At UB, And Why?

This is an interesting question. I am a Student Ambassador at UB and it’s something that I often tell the folks on my tours. I strongly feel that I was meant to be here. I could have attended other universities, but I’m glad I chose this one.

UB has much to offer its students, you just have to be active and show that you are ready to work, and the opportunities will be presented. This is a place where you are rewarded and honored by the hard work you do. UB is developing into something great, producing well-rounded individuals that can truly make a difference.

I feel like I belong here because UB is international. It’s a university that cares about the community. It’s a place that has student leaders who are proactive and make a difference every day. And, frankly, the University of Bridgeport is a place that has given me opportunities to make my biggest dreams come true.

3 What Are Some Of Those Dreams Of Yours That Have Come True At UB?

During the Summer of 2014, I studied abroad for two months in the Middle East, more precisely at Princess Sumaya University in Amman, Jordan, where I took classes in Arabic and Jordanian History/Political Science. I had a bit of getting used to the environment when I first got there, but other than that, having studied the culture beforehand allowed me to have a great understanding. The local trips we took as a class were great! We went to the Dead Sea and to Petra, rode camels and horses, and enjoyed a ton of delicious foods. I took some time to travel outside of Jordan as well – for my birthday, I went to Cairo-Egypt, then later to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Paris, France.

Another academic trip I’ve taken while at UB was during Thanksgiving break in 2014. As a member of UB’s Model United Nation Club, I was sent with my friend and colleague, Simόn Arias, to the International Conference in Rome, Italy. It was a great experience and learning opportunity. We mingled and made friends with people from all around the world. Our advisor, Dr. Chunjuan Nancy Wei, guided us through the whole process and was a huge asset to our team.

This opportunity to go to Rome to compete on behalf of the University of Bridgeport also gave us an opportunity to travel throughout Europe – Paris-France, Zurich-Switzerland, Brussels-Belgium, and the Vatican. What impressed me the most was the abundance of art present almost everywhere I went.

4 What Did You Think Of The CASA Re-Entry Conference That Took Place This Past Weekend?

The CASA conference was fantastic and I would love to attend again after I return from my next study abroad experience. For me, the highlight of the day was simply mingling with people who had study abroad experiences as well. As the University of Bridgeport is very international, we naturally have many people with international experiences, but there was something very special about meeting Americans like myself who left the U.S. to go to a different culture. Meeting fellow study abroad travelers made me feel that I am part of a global society, and I loved sharing stories about our travels.

5 What’s Next For You?

Well, I hope many wonderful things are to come! I want to keep my academics up, I want to continue working for my University and making a positive impact in peoples’ lives. Additionally, the adage, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list,” resonates with me greatly because that’s what I want to keep doing … I want to travel constantly. I am currently waiting to hear whether or not I am accepted to study abroad in South Korea over the Summer of 2015 as well. I have ten pages left on my passport, and my goal is to stamp them all very soon.

I know I’m very lucky to have all these opportunities, and not once have I ever taken any of them for granted. I’m eternally grateful for all the support I have at UB.

About the 2015 CASA Re-Entry Conference

On Saturday, February 7, 2015, the University of Bridgeport hosted the Second Annual Connecticut Area Study Abroad (CASA) Re-Entry Conference, coordinated by Overseas Study Coordinator Brandon LaFavor. Students and advisors from 10 universities throughout the state participated, along with seven sponsors. Toward the goal of providing a professional development conference for students who had recently studied abroad, sessions included:

  • President Neil Salonen’s Opening Address (which was received as a highlight of the day by those in attendance, according to conference evaluations).
  • Unpacking the Experience: Often, after an international experience, students can overwhelm their friends and family with every detail of their time abroad, make overarching criticisms of their home culture, or becoming depressed without the excitement of travel. This session was designed to help students learn how to contain their excitement with others, while offering an outlet to share their education abroad experiences with like-minded individuals. Students also created an action plan for what they could do if they find themselves depressed or in need of reliving their time abroad.
  • Going Abroad Again: This session was held in a “speed date” format with information on:
    • Teaching English Abroad
    • Grad School Abroad
    • Service Abroad
    • Medical Careers Abroad
    • Working and Interning Abroad
    • Distinguished Awards (Fulbrights, Critical Language Scholarships, etc.)
  • Communicating the Experience: This session focused on how to effectively turn your study abroad experience into a marketable skill set during the job interview process.

Adds LaFavor:

“This year’s Connecticut Area Study Abroad (CASA) Re-Entry Conference would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of study abroad directors, advisors, and program providers throughout the state. Sessions were offered in collaboration with professionals from all the universities and sponsors in attendance. I was excited when Sacred Heart University first reached out to my office almost two years ago with a desire to collaborate, build our consortium of education abroad directors and advisors in the state of Connecticut, and offer an annual  professional development experience for our students. The conferences have been a resounding success and the growth in participation from students, universities, and sponsors have been significant. The CASA team is looking forward to organizing the third annual Re-Entry Conference at the University of New Haven in 2016.”