SBCC’s Study Abroad program set to return in fall with London trip

Image+courtesy+of+the+SBCC+2017+London%2C+England+Study+Abroad+program.

Image courtesy of the SBCC 2017 London, England Study Abroad program.

Eric Evelhoch, Staff Writer

While leaning on a railing overlooking the River Thames and soaking in the view of London in 2018, Melanie Eckford-Prossor knew she had to bring students there.

Now City College will provide that opportunity once again with the planned return of the Study Abroad program.

 The semester-long Fall 2021 London program led by English Literature and Composition Professor Eckford-Prossor is scheduled for departure on Sept. 16.

“The courses and the city will reinforce and deepen students’ experience of being away from the familiar,” Eckford-Prossor said. “Since London is both its past and its very vibrant present, we will place past and present beside each other.”

It’s the first of five planned offerings by Study Abroad for 2021-2022, and will be the first since COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the Spring 2020 Florence program. In total, five programs were cancelled and three have currently been rescheduled.

According to Senior Program Assistant Nicole Walther, everything is “still fluid” as City College continues to pay close attention to the global pandemic.

“We are always staying on top of news and are looking at the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], [World Health Organization] and local authorities,” Walther said. “We keep close contact with offices, plus health authorities on the ground in those destinations.”

Though the CDC has the United Kingdom at the highest risk assessment level for COVID-19 as of April 19, there are encouraging signs.

Currently, the European Union is considering opening travel to vaccinated Americans over the summer. While no longer an EU member, nearly half of the UK’s approximately 68 million residents have received at least their first vaccination.

Dean of Educational Programs Carola Smith said that participants will be required to follow all health and safety requirements.

“Our service providers have implemented safety protocols; mask mandates, working with local mandates and addressing the number of students sharing facilities,” she said. “In the big picture, we need to follow the guidelines that come out from the trusted authorities.”

Walther said City College plans to make a decision on whether the program will go forward before any deposits are paid. Applications are by June 9, and the first major payment is due July 14.

Eckford-Prossor, who was born in London, has shaped the semester around the ‘City as Text’ methodology. This uses the city itself as the main focal point, and explores how it has evolved through the accompanying courses.

“I have seen it through the eyes of many people, and I have watched it change,” she said. “I want us to visit and go beyond tourist attractions, and see the way the city itself has shifted and grown.”

Having taken part in a City College study abroad program herself, Smith spoke of how “transformative” the experience can be and stressed the importance of being fully prepared.

“We want students to go into this knowingly and confidently, and to know that SBCC will not do something that puts students at undue risk,” she said.

There are three informational meetings remaining for the London program: 11 a.m. on May 3, 4 p.m. on May 12 and 11 a.m. on May 17. Interested students should email Eckford-Prossor at least 24 hours before the meeting.