GO Program Teaches Senior about London and Himself
Published on May 5, 2014
Susquehanna University graduating senior Aaron Haines, a communications major from Washington, D.C., has always thought of himself as an adventurer, but when it came to his Global Opportunities (GO) trip he wanted to play it safe. In the end, Lisa Scott, vice president for student engagement and success, talked Haines into taking a chance on himself and on a GO Long program to Regents University in London.
Haines went abroad for the entire spring semester of 2013, but hesitated because he had lots of things going on at Susquehanna at the time. His fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, had started to gain traction and become better known by the campus community. Haines also spent time as a disc jockey at the campus radio station, WQSU. Among his other activities were serving on the Student Conduct Board and the Black Student Union—a total of seven activities or memberships.
“At the time, I was really small-minded,” Haines admitted. “I just wanted to stay and be here to make sure everything went smoothly. But Lisa Scott told me I needed to think outside the box and expand my horizons. I’m glad she gave me that reality check. I was trying to GO short, but this really helped me grow as a person.”
The GO Program ensures every student builds cross-cultural competence by studying in a culture different from their own, followed by a reflection course upon their return. GO Short programs last a minimum of two weeks. GO Long takes students abroad for an entire semester. Students choose from more than 100 travel and service options abroad or in the United States. Because everyone “goes,” students bring back a wealth of experiences and viewpoints that inform academic and social interactions.
This year’s graduating class of more than 500 students visited 74 different countries and traveled more than 4 million miles. Students seem to discover something new about themselves or the world; Haines’ semester revealed a host of characteristics and abilities within himself he hadn’t known were there.
“The trip made me more mature because being in another country, I had to fend for myself in making decisions,” he said. “It also made me more responsible dealing with money. I had to plan and form a strategy for my money.
“I had always participated in classes for the most part, but once I got back it made me analyze things a little bit more before I speak. It helped shape my perspective.”
And for students who just aren’t sure what GO holds for them, Haines has some advice: “Get out of your comfort zone,” he said. “I think that’s what college is about—really finding out what your strengths and weaknesses are. I learned more about what existed inside of me that I didn’t know was there.”