David's current position (2010): Director of the International Office, Wabash College - Crawfordville, Ind.

Reason you chose this program: Dr. Merle Simmons encouraged me. I planned to teach High School Spanish, so I wanted to be as fluent as possible. Peru did that for me. 

Best memory: Learning to speak Spanish fluently with anyone and making lifelong friends. Our "Grupo" still has reunions every five years somewhere. 

How was your life affected by the cultural experience of studying abroad? I learned that most of the world's peoples have much greater struggles than we just to meet their basic needs, that we all essentially want the same things for our families, regardless of language, race, religion, socio-economic status. The experience of living in Lima for a year gave me insights that I never could have gained from books or television. I came back a changed person, and I like the person I became.

Explain the impact study abroad has in your career:  For my career, there was never a problem convincing employers that I could do the job. "You studied in Peru, South America for a year, lived with a family, studied in the oldest University in America, traveled all over the country...Hired!"  I did teach Spanish in four different high schools, ironically first in Peru, Indiana. Then, I moved toward helping people coming into the U.S. by working with refugees in the Indianapolis Public Schools. Eventually, college level work called me to work with study abroad students, and international students, beginning with Indiana State University, Butler, and currently at Wabash College.

I could have never done what I have done, affected the lives of hundreds of students and their families all over the world [without study abroad]. Study abroad has meant everything to me!

What skills you gained from studying abroad do you still use today? Language acquisition was the primary goal and original purpose. But, I learned to live a life that would make me a blessing to others, continually learning and expanding my horizons. Truly, I have confidence that I believe only study abroad teaches a person. I learned to cope, be independent, self-reliant. 

What advice would you have for a student considering study abroad? I cannot understand, and never have unerstood, why everyone does not study abroad. Our world is shrinking. We need to learn to get along with others all over the world. It's not longer a supposed luxury; it's an absolute necessity.