Photo of study abroad students

Students in the Thailand program will receive “cultural kits” that include small samplings of food they would have been able to try if they had gone abroad.
Image Credit: University Studies Abroad Consortium.

CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson University’s College of Science is offering students in preprofessional health programs a way to experience global learning — without leaving their homes.

The College of Science will offer its new Global Health Virtual Experience over spring break and this summer in two locations: Cyprus and Thailand.

The program gives study abroad opportunities to students who cannot travel overseas, said Harolynn Williams, the College of Science’s director of health professions advising and one of the Global Health Virtual Experience program directors.

Some students cannot afford other study abroad programs, she said. Others cannot travel for extended periods because of family or work obligations or are leery about going overseas.

“The existing programs were not enough. It was very clear that they were not supporting all students,” said Yuki Kihara, assistant director of global engagement for the College of Science. “Even before the pandemic, we wanted to create an affordable, accessible program that could support student learning no matter the circumstances from which students were coming.”

The four-week summer virtual programs will include a medical terminology course and a clinical engagement and internship course focusing on health care skills, comparative management of care, and traditional remedies and practices in the host country. They will also include case-study discussions with various health care providers and cross-cultural activities.

Sea caves in Cyprus

Cyprus is one of two locations in which Clemson University students in preprofessional health programs can experience global learning without leaving their homes through the College of Science’s Global Health Virtual Experience.
Image Credit: Courtesy of the University of Nicosia.

The spring break programs offer a sampling of the medical terminology and clinical courses offered in the summer program.

The programs will be both asynchronous and synchronous, which will allow students to interact with faculty and students from the host country.

“Students need that cultural awareness because they’ll be helping people who don’t look like them, think like them and talk like them,” Williams said.

The University Studies Abroad Consortium will manage the Thailand program. Faculty members and health care providers in Khon Kaen will teach courses in the Thailand program. Faculty from the University of Nicosia will teach the classes in the Cyprus program. The University of Nicosia is the largest research university in southern Europe that teaches in English.

“The structure of the programs will be very similar, but both locations offer very different perspectives and points of view,” Kihara said.

The Global Health Virtual Experience will try to recreate an “in-person” feel as much as is possible, Williams said. Students in the Thailand program will receive cultural kits that include small samplings of food and other materials. Students in the Cyprus program will create ancient and traditional home remedies in their own kitchens.

Students in Thailand

The Thailand program will be taught by local faculty members and health care providers in Khon Kaen.
Image Credit: University Studies Abroad Consortium

Williams said the Global Health Virtual Experience will give students an additional chance to take medical terminology, a class that many of the health profession schools are now requiring. Due to limited enrollment capacity in the medical terminology courses currently offered at Clemson, many preprofessional health students are unable to take medical terminology until late in their undergraduate careers, she said.

Williams and Kihara said they plan to offer in-person and virtual versions of the Global Health Experience once pandemic-related travel bans end.

The application deadline for the spring break Global Health Virtual Experience is Jan. 10. Students who complete the experience will receive a certificate of participation.

The deadline to apply for the summer program is March 15. Students who successfully complete the program will receive academic credits.