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TU Citizen: Siena Farrar

Siena Farrar

"I really hated my study abroad program in Thailand. It conflicted with my morals. I did not agree with the project we were doing. It was a public health-style program where we were told for a grade to go do some form of public health intervention. I was like, "We are all unqualified undergrads trying to tell real people what to do! This isn't right!"

The hanging moment of dread across the whole program was an "I have to do this or else" kind of feeling. But I managed to corral all of my classmates into not really doing it. And instead of doing something super condescending, we did water pesticide contamination testing. We were like, "We have the funding to test these things. We tested this. This is an intervention. This counts." And now, I'm much more critical of those kinds of programs."
And now, I'm a study abroad advisor for the office of study abroad and I'm the public health advisor for our office.

Study abroad and tourism are fundamentally different. The students who want a touristy thing, like, yeah, go on vacation. But I think when students are not being catered to, they realize that they have to solve their own problems. They have to ... grow emotionally. They have to navigate uncomfortable situations. And I think it's in those little, like, dips and bad moments when they can learn to rely on themselves forever, rather than relying on... customer service.

Rather than just being in an American bubble in XYZ, they're thinking about, wait a second, and how is this the same? How is this different? What is going well? What's going poorly? What is home? What is authenticity? Who am I? 

-- Siena Farrar, Assistant Director of Advising, NTC Center for Global Education Office of Study Abroad