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OCS Sport and Globalization Program Gets Rave Reviews

<an style="vertical-align: baseline">The Carleton OCS (Off-Campus Studies) program Sport and Globalization explores the connection between the role of sport in society. The program, which was inaugurated in the winter of 2014, travels to London, England, and Seville, Spain. It explores the rich history and culture of sport in these cities in connection to the influence of advancing globalization. Because the faculty director of the program is Bob Carlson, the head coach of the Carleton men’s soccer team, there is a specific focus on soccer.

With help and guidance from the OCS office, Carlson designed the program and has just returned from a successful third trip. “I firmly believe that international education can be transformative and sport can be an avenue to help students understand and value a culture different from their own,” Carlson said. “And, at its best sport like art or music if approached in the right way, can break down language, socio-economic and cultural barriers.”

Through this program, students can engage with and learn from renowned businesses, organizations, academics, and athletic teams. Reflecting on the past trip, Carlson highlighted, “our time in London included unique opportunities to learn from Nike UK, NFL Europe Opta and see three EPL matches including soon to be crowned champions Manchester City. We learned from coaches at Southampton Football (Soccer) Academy, Harlequins Rugby Club, Marlybone Cricket Club and shared time with historians, sports scientists and visited several world class stadiums.

In Spain, our service project with the Lora Tamayo School in Bellavista is always the most meaningful and impactful cultural exchange during our term.” The Carleton students interviewed from this year’s Sport and Globalization trip offered excellent praise for the program. Students were generally encouraged to join this program due to a love for sports and an interest in the impact of sport in society.

Phil Gagnon (’20) expressed, “I was prompted to go on the Sport and Globalization Program because of my passion for sport and it also allowed me to learn more about different sport cultures.” While wanting to expand their knowledge of the world of sports, students participating in the program were also interested in learning through a different cultural viewpoint.

Aaron Prentice (’20) said, “my whole life I’ve been obsessed with sports both from a player perspective and a fan perspective. My enthusiasm for all things sports prompted me to go abroad to learn about sports from outside an American perspective, which was something new and exciting to me.”        

The program participants were able to experience many unique highlights and opportunities. Ruby Kazemi (’19) enjoyed the opportunity to live in and explore two very different European cities. “London and Seville had very different cultures and I enjoyed getting to split my time between the two. I also really loved all the traveling we got to do on the weekends,” Kazemi said.

Gagnon enjoyed being able to watch and participate in different sporting experiences. “The highlights of my experiences on this program were going to all of the soccer games in England and I also enjoyed our practice and coaching sessions playing cricket and rugby,” he said. Prentice also highlighted his new experiences with sport, and enjoyed “getting cricket lessons and realizing how different that sport is from anything in America.”

While the program was not described as academically challenging, the students developed different academic perspectives and faced most challenges outside of the classroom. Gagnon said, “academically, I feel like I left the program with a greater sense of the importance of globalization and how it can both positively and negatively affect people and sports.” Prentice acknowledged the challenges of having a hectic schedule and language differences. “The most obvious challenge was the language barrier.

Unlike London, or the big tourist cities like Barcelona, Paris, and Rome, very few people in Seville knew a word of English. Our group on the trip was fortunate to have one fluent Spanish speaker, a little more than half of the group knew enough Spanish to get by, but then there were people like me who did not know any Spanish,” Prentice explained. Kazemi found the language barrier to be a fulfilling experience. “I found it challenging in Seville to communicate with my host family because they only spoke Spanish, but it was really rewarding that after only three weeks I could already tell I was getting better,” Kazemi reflected.        

This program was highly recommended by the participants. “I think that any student slightly interested in any aspect of sport would find this trip to be a trip of a lifetime,” Prentice said. Prentice also acknowledged that an area for improvement on the program would be the homestays. “The homestays we did in London did not go well for any group. Most of our group thought that at our homestays, the parents treated us like obligations instead of making it a positive experience for us,” Prentice said. Overall, the program received great reviews. Many students have expressed interest in future participation in this program and hope that it will continue for the winter term of 2020.

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