Students embrace intercultural learning with Faculty-led Classrooms Abroad

Earlier this year, students from three Faculties at Durham College (DC) took advantage of invaluable opportunities to learn abroad, immersing themselves in new cultures while enhancing and applying the skills they have learned in the classroom.

Read on for details about four recent Faculty-led Classrooms Abroad (FLCA).

­­Costa Rica

Students and faculty from the Behavioural Science – Honours Bachelor and Behavioural Science Technician programs travelled to Costa Rica, where they visited schools, special education centres and health care facilities to gain insight into the teaching methods and types of therapy used within a broader global context. Students applied critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills when meeting with educators and people who provide support to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

They visited three communities to explore the differences in resources available in urban and rural areas and the impact that may have on the services provided.

“My favourite part of the trip was witnessing the students seeing new things, experiencing a new culture, and having the opportunity to travel for the first time,” said Sarah Drexler, Professor in the Faculty of Social and Community Services. “It was amazing to witness not only the learning that was taking place, but the excitement students were experiencing.”

One of those students was Tal Torres, who embraced all of the opportunities the experience provided.

“I had so much fun exploring the country with my classmates and also learning so much more than I could even imagine,” she said. “I loved the new foods we got to try, the university lectures we got to sit in on and especially all the new information I learned about Applied Behaviour Analysis and how different it is through a cross-cultural aspect.”


Twelve students from the Faculty of Media, Art and Design visited the rural Guatemalan village of San Felipe, where they mentored young high school students and learned about the local K’iché and Ixil Mayan cultures.

In the fall, DC students and their Mayan counterparts worked together virtually to produce stories about Indigenous rights. Once they were together in Guatemala, they learned about how to market and share those stories in an accessible way.

In April, a virtual reunion event was held in the Rotary Global Classroom. The DC delegation reconnected with their friends from Central America to share the stories they created together.

“Working with the Indigenous communities in Guatemala was by far the most influential experience I have ever had the privilege of having,” said Brianna Duff, a student in the Advertising – Digital Media Management program. “Since we went to Guatemala, I have so much more hope and love in my heart, and my perspective on so many things has changed immensely. Not only has my daily life been changed for the better by this opportunity, but my future plans and goals have also been impacted.”

DC partnered on the initiative with Students Offering Support, a non-profit organization that connects students and learners from diverse cultures and communities.

Both the Costa Rica and Guatemala projects were generously funded by Global Skills Opportunity, the Government of Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program.


DC’s Culinary students traveled to the Italian Culinary Institute in Lamezia, Italy where they gained hands-on experience cooking traditional recipes, using local ingredients from the region’s vast biodiverse landscape.

“It was a great cultural experience because I could learn all about the authentic methods and ingredients on how to make all of these different foods,” said Jonathan Castillo, a Culinary Management student who took advantage of a similar project in Peru last year. “Durham College gives us this platform to broaden our knowledge of cuisine around the world.”

His classmate Brooklyn Johnson was also excited to take part.

“It was the experience of a lifetime,” she said.

Though our DC students learn about food from all over the world during their studies at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, there’s nothing like visiting a country and connecting directly with its people, according to Professor Tanya Heck.

“It’s interesting to be a student in a country that’s not your own,” she said. “Maybe they relate to our international students a little better by putting themselves in an environment that’s a little bit different.”

San Diego, California

Students from two programs travelled to San Diego for the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) Convening Leaders 2024 conference. Attracting thousands of attendees each year, the international conference gives students insight into what it takes to bring such a large and multifaceted convention together.

Event Planning students volunteered in the set-up and execution of the event, and Tourism – Destination Marketing students worked alongside the San Diego Tourism Authority to help promote the city to over 3,000 international delegates.

Our DC students also attended the conference and participated in workshops with other post-secondary students from across North America, while taking advantage of networking opportunities with industry professionals.

“The conference was an amazing opportunity for us. There were so many people to meet and work with there,” said Maggi Heindl, an Event Planning student. “It was a very good complement to my education.”

From international summer programs and semesters in other countries to FLCAs, there are lots of ways for you to see the world while attending DC. For more on those opportunities, click here.