Study Abroad Celebration Focuses on Career Preparation

An alumnus who served in the Peace Corps in North Macedonia and a current student in South Korea shared how PBA has prepared them for success working internationally.

Samuel Rogers ’15, Martin Deacon and London faculty sponsor Dr. Carl Miller addressed students, alumni, faculty and staff Tuesday evening during a study abroad alumni dinner. Dr. Carl Miller, faculty sponsor for the London study abroad program, describes how students visited the places that inspired British children's literature that they were studying as they were studying it.

The David and Leighan Rinker Center for Experiential Learning hosted the celebration, which gave students an opportunity to swap stories of their adventures — and occasional misadventures — over a meal. Since it was established in 2011, the center has sent more than 200 students to 30 study abroad programs in 16 countries, said Coordinator Danielle Hawk.

Enhancing their studies of British children’s literature, students in London visited the forest that inspired Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, the home of “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers and the Peter Pan statue in the gardens that inspired J.M. Barrie, Miller said.  

Appealing to business students, Deacon ’20, who joined the group by video call Wednesday morning from South Korea, said studying abroad in Asia makes them “wildly more competitive” as job candidates for international positions. It shows employers that they can handle living abroad — which isn’t without challenges.

Deacon, who grew up in South Africa, has already leveraged his experience in talks with multinational companies he’d like to join.

“They’re just loving the fact that I actually did put myself out there,” he said. “It’s a tremendous asset to have, and it teaches you about resilience.”

Martin Deacon, an accounting and finance major who is studying abroad in South Korea, fields questions from Danielle Hawk (far right, holding microphone), Coordinator of the David and Leighan Rinker Center for Experiential Learning, via video call during a study abroad alumni dinner. Although he’s enjoying the experience — and saw India and Nepal along the way — “it definitely makes you cherish PBA,” Deacon said.

Rogers, a history major and a French minor, said PBA prepared him for service abroad by instilling in him “a spirit of humility and a spirit of service.” The University also gave him the framework to process what he saw and experienced.

At PBA, Rogers went on a mission trip to Manaus, Brazil, studied abroad at the University of Oxford and traveled to Cairo, Egypt as a research assistant with Dr. Gerald Wright. After graduation, he left in 2016 for a two-year term in the Peace Corps teaching English to elementary school students in North Macedonia.

“There were moments when I didn’t really know what I had gotten myself into,” Rogers said.

One such moment came when he was stuffing sweet potatoes and frozen corn into his suitcase to cart them home from the store as he prepared to host an American-style Thanksgiving dinner that counted the United States ambassador to North Macedonia among the guests.

On another occasion, Rogers hosted a summer camp for 95 children who experienced water balloons for the first time.

“It was chaos, but really the best kind of chaos,” he said. 

Samuel Rogers '15, shared how his PBA experiences, prepared him for serving in the Peace Corps in North Macedonia for two years.His PBA study abroad experience prepared him how to be respectful of other cultures and integrate into new communities, so much so that the children he served called him “older brother Sam.” He received the ultimate honor when he was invited to be the best man in his host sister’s wedding. 

Rogers said he couldn’t overstate how much PBA prepared him for success living abroad, where he experienced circumstances that endangered his safety, shook his faith and tested his resolve.

“I know that life is a process of learning, of growing and of serving.”

He now works at a Washington, D.C.-based think tank and is scheduled to attend The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in the fall.

Photo 1: Dr. Carl Miller, faculty sponsor for the London study abroad program, describes how students visited the places that inspired the British children's literature that they were studying as they were studying it.

Photo 2: Martin Deacon, an accounting and finance major who is studying abroad in South Korea, fields questions from Danielle Hawk (far right, holding microphone), Coordinator of the David and Leighan Rinker Center for Experiential Learning, via video call during a study abroad alumni dinner.

Photo 3: Samuel Rogers '15, shared how his PBA experiences, prepared him for serving in the Peace Corps in North Macedonia for two years.