For some Cornell students, one of the most immediate hurdles to studying abroad is actually getting the passport.
To help solve that problem, the Council on International Educational Exchange sponsored a Passport Caravan on Wednesday in Willard Straight Hall to help 150 students, all U.S. citizens, apply for U.S. passports for free in an effort to promote study abroad.
“The event is part of CIEE’s support of Generation Study Abroad, an initiative to make study abroad more possible for U.S. students by breaking down the three major barriers to study abroad: cost, curriculum and culture,” a CIEE press release states.
For Aaliyah Daniels ’20 this event alleviated the inconvenience that living in Ithaca presents. She intended to get her expired passport renewed at the event because she is going on a service trip to Jamaica in April.
“A lot of times it feels like being here on Cornell’s campus, you feel like you’re in a bubble in the middle of nowhere, so it can be difficult to go out and get the resources you need,” Daniels said. “Sometimes it helps to have a little assistance because it’s kind of a hard process.”
Maureen Sullivan, the institutional relations manager of CIEE, facilitated the Passport Caravan as CIEE’s representative. She said this event is important because “for some students, just getting the passport is a real barrier to being able to then study abroad.”
“We work with Cornell abroad to sort of fill in the holes where they may not have their own programs or where they need a specific type of program, like a public health program, in a country that doesn’t offer it,” Sullivan said.
In support of Generation Study Abroad, CIEE has “decided that giving out free passports to students is one of the ways that we can really start increasing those numbers of students going abroad,” Sullivan said.
Kristin Blake, the program coordinator for visiting international students with Cornell Abroad, said that “by having everything available here, including the photos [that] can be taken during this event for your passport, we try to have it all in one place, so it makes it convenient.”
In addition to providing free passports, U.S. passport officers were at the Passport Caravan to assist other students, faculty and staff in obtaining or renewing their passports. Students interested in the event were asked to register online beforehand, but the event also accepted walk-in students.
Identification cards and expired passports in hands, students lined up at the event awaiting new and free passports or renewals.
Nolan Gray ’20 said he was considering studying abroad later on while in college and used the event as a chance to get a headstart on the process.
“I know that the passport process is usually really tiresome and expensive, so I am just trying to take advantage of the good opportunity,” he said.
Franccesca Kazerooni grad, a California native, was also at the event to renew her passport.
“[The event] encourages everyone to do it and be ready to travel rather than leave things for last minute, especially when there’s a lot to do,” Kazerooni said.
Gray emphasized the significance of studying abroad while attending Cornell.
“I think it’s really important to step outside your comfort zone and interact with cultures that you would otherwise have no opportunity [to interact with],” he said.
Nora Matland, marketing and outreach coordinator at Cornell Abroad, also feels that studying abroad is critical for students. Matland, who has lived in more than four different countries, described the transformative experience of living abroad.
“Every time I’ve come back, my experience abroad has changed me completely, and that started with my study abroad experience in Spain,” Matland said. “I really feel that that’s something that every student could benefit from.”