60 Hastings College students spend January in Paris

In January, Hastings College sent 60 sophomores, two professors, its president and its director of international programs to Paris for 10 days as a pilot program for the College’s study abroad initiative that launches in the fall.

The experience? It was every bit as transformational as the College hoped.

“Being in Paris has given me the opportunity to see with a different lens what I can do with my life and career,” said Jordan Ismaiel, a studio art major and member of the Hastings College Honors Program.

Hastings College students in front of the Paris Opera House.
Hastings College president Dr. Travis Feezell discusses with students what they learned during a tour and meetings at Palais Garnier, one of the two performance venues operated by Paris Opera.

While at the Louvre, Ismaiel viewed the Mona Lisa and other works he’s only seen in books. “When we’re looking at this work and the technical skill behind it, we’re looking at artists who moved art forward,” he said. “We’re looking at art that’s foundational to what we do today.”

Grant Hunter, director of international programs, said the trip was filled with many firsts.

“We’ve had students flying for the first time, leaving the country for the first time, taking a major capital’s metro system for the first time and learning abroad for the first time,” he said. “There is nothing more valuable for a student’s education than to be immersed in what is different or foreign and I can think of no better classroom than the streets, businesses and people of Paris.”

The students left Hastings as a group, stayed together in Paris and participated in many activities together — like a weekend excursion to Lyon or an evening at the Louvre. Other times, students divided into one of three classes and headed out with their professor.

Travel Learning

The Sports & Culture class spent part of a day at Clairefontaine, the French Football Federation’s offices and training facilities outside Paris — and home to the 2018 World Cup champions. That class is taught by Dr. Travis Feezell, the College’s president, who said in an Instagram video that students had great meetings with the French organization, and heard about the upcoming women’s World Cup.

“This is what it means to be a Hastings College student and to become a global citizen understanding sport all around the world,” he said.

While that group was at the soccer complex, an International Business class led by Dr. Amy Black went to Station F, the world’s largest business start-up campus. With more than 1,000 start-ups under one roof, it was the perfect spot to talk about entrepreneurship.

Before leaving for Paris, Black’s class met with the Nebraska State Fair, Stuhr Museum and Hastings Economic Development Corporation. “In Paris, we had similar conversations at Le Golf National, home of the 2018 Ryder Cup and a 2024 Paris Olympics site, the Louvre and Station F,” she said. “While the differences are obvious, the similarities are more numerous than you might ever imagine.”

The travel experience was paid for by the College and donors, as will the study away program that begins this fall.

It’s part of what the college is billing as “Hastings 2.0,” which also includes investing in iPad Pros and Apple Pencils for students, a new block schedule and the College providing all required textbooks at no additional cost, which will save families $4,00o or more over the course of four years.

Hunter said learning through travel helps prepare students for the world today.

“International education and a global outlook is something more and more employers are wanting from college graduates,” Hunter said. “With this one experience, Hastings College has 60 bright students waiting to go out into the world and share their experiences, and we can’t wait for more students to have the opportunity.”

Students at Clairfontaine soccer complex in France
Hastings College students gather at Clairefontaine, the French national soccer complex. Students toured the facility and had meetings with the leaders of the organization to gain a better understanding of global sports, hear about the group’s 2018 World Cup championship and the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

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