For many students, some of the most valuable lessons are learned
outside of the classroom. This has been especially true for John
Maher. With the demands of his engineering major, it would have
been nearly impossible for John to study abroad and still graduate
in four years. But thanks to the Student First Fund and other
resources at Student Life, John has been able to invest his free
time wisely, gaining a global perspective that will travel with him
for the rest of his life.
John’s first international experience came through
Alternative Break Program, which engages students in experiential
learning through community service and volunteerism during their
academic breaks. Working with an initiative called Outreach 360,
John helped teach English to elementary students and worked to
break the poverty cycle in the Dominican Republic. “It was a
tremendously rewarding experience.”
But John didn’t stop there. He also took advantage of the Student Leadership International Dialogue and Exchange (SLIDE) program, an international learning experience that gives student the ability to learn about leadership from a global perspective. Through SLIDE, John traveled to Prague, Budapest, and Italy. At each destination, John soaked in the culture, met with other students, and learned about local non-profit organizations.
John is proud to attend a school that provides opportunities for such life-changing experiences. “When you go abroad, you really learn a lot about yourself.” Today, he cherishes not only the memories of his travels, but also the countless lessons he has learned along the way. “Traveling breaks your comfort zone in ways you might not even imagine."
In one instance, John found that having to overcome language
barriers in a short amount of time has made him a more effective
communicator. “You learn to listen to people more because you
have to listen abroad.” When he came back to the States, he
found himself talking less - and listening more.
“That’s a huge thing in communication, and something I
had no idea I would learn while abroad.”