“LESSONS LEARNED”

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					                                  “LESSONS LEARNED”
                   Lori Halverson-Wente, Cambodia Travel Study Director
                        Rochester Community and Technical College

1. Support is Essential
      a. Personal Energy
                i. You need a personal support person and a professional support person-- on the trip and
                   home.
      b. Local Ties to the Country you are visiting
                i. Who do you know locally – in our Rochester Area – who knows someone, who knows
                   someone?
      c. Campus Support
                i. Ask for help with paperwork, time-line management, budget recording etc. (Hopefully a
                   support staff person or work-study person could even help).
               ii. Seek out other instructors who have traveled and ask for help!
              iii. Be prepared to “defend” your trip, plans and curriculum – but listen open-mindedly to
                   criticism or questions, trying not to be defensive.
      d. Support while Traveling
                i. Create a Partnership in the country you work in – both an “Institutional” one and a
                   NGO/Nonprofit one.
               ii. Who can you go to for personal and logistical support? Having an Administrator with
                   you is HEAVENLY!!!!
              iii. Where do you go for emergency support?
              iv. Contact NG”s and Nonprofit organizations who can help you prior to leaving.
               v. Who can you find already volunteering there? Is there a Peace Corps volunteer nearby
                   (or other similar volunteer)? This is amazingly helpful, they generally have no funding yet
                   much expertise, energy and a lot of connections!
      e. YOU will need to support the emotional needs of your students before, during and even after the
         trip. Plan dates prior to trip for follow up meetings.


2. Quit Reinventing the wheel
      a. Learn from peers
      b. Learn from students
      c. Use forms already created and approved – this will be nice once forms are more standardized.


3. Travel Logistics
      a. Plan a budget that is realistic
                i. Prepare for “what if…”
               ii. Will the price of your flight or arrangements change?
              iii. If the trip is successful, can you bring another faculty member/staff/interpreter?
             iv. Will you include food or do they pay extra for it?
               v. What can they pay there, what should you collect?
             vi. Budget for group expenses/supplies (e.g., an medical emergency kit (unless the school
                   will provide it)
             vii. How will you access money? Cash? Credit? Other?
      b. Who is your travel agent?
                i. What do you NEED the agent for?
               ii. What is their refund policy?
              iii. How will you contact him or her while traveling?
             iv. Will you need an agent in the country?
      c. Changes?
                i. Can you add new participants? Will they have the same “status” as the other travelers
                   by the airline?



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                  ii. Even if it does not cost to change flight plans, think carefully as you add or change fight
                      plans; you may lose your “status” if you have a change.
        d.   Will students get “miles” or is this a group trip?
        e.   What are your ground transportation needs? What if the price is higher than expected? Will you
             be able to add to your budget?
        f.   Make sure you collect money for visas and exit fees, if applicable; students will feel “broke” by
             the end of the trip.
        g.   Where are ATM machines? How can you and your students get more money if necessary?
        h.   Have contingency plans.


4. Business Office Lessons
      a. Have fees approved early – this means an early budget.
      b. Do you need to use a tuition differential or is this a “fee” – never, ever “pay for something
         yourself” (I did have a colleague do this, what a disaster!)
      c. How will students see the bill? Will it be correct?
      d. Have a designated support person to help you if needed in filling out forms.
      e. Understand how to pay your travel agent and hotels, etc.
               i. Not everyone will be an approved vendor – especially if you are working in a developing
                  nation.
      f. Factor in Mandatory Emergency Medical Insurance – remember this is different than what most
         people believe is “travel insurance.”
      g. Discover what are local vs. system policies. When there is a difference, seek out clarification.
      h. Policies the business office must follow change often – be flexible and understand what
         constraints they are under.
      i. Understand the PO Process:
               i. Who is an approved vendor? How do you get a vendor approved?
              ii. How much time do you need for varied forms?
             iii. Can you have an open account at a local store for your misc. needs
             iv. Who needs to approve your PO’s?
      j. How do you get your donations to your NGO group? Can you partner locally with another
         nonprofit? Do you need to process this through your own pay check? Can you use pay-pal?
         Must you use cash?


5. Health and Safety First
      a. What is your evacuation plan? Where are local medical emergency plans?
      b. First Aid
                i. First Aid Kit is needed by college we can take with us.
               ii. Take a First Aid class and become certified
              iii. Carry smaller first aid kits always.
              iv. Encourage students to take a first aid class.
      c. Knowledge
                i. Know the medical health of your students. Note: food allergies might not manifest
                   themselves until you are there, eating the local food.
               ii. Know the mental health of your students if possible.
      d. Buddy Systems


6. “Classroom” Suggestions
       a. What dates should you have them reserve for meetings before and after the trip? Don’t depend
          upon “let’s see when folks are free” for the follow up.
       b. D2L is your friend.
               i. Post videos about your country from You.Tube so they can see it!
              ii. Discussion Boards
                       1. For basic lessons
                       2. For “get to know me!”


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                           3. For “I’m packing this – what are you bringing?”
                 iii. Assignments and Rubrics, etc.
        c.   There are many resources about getting students ready for travel. The best one I found
             was:http://www.pacific.edu/sis/culture/index.htm
        d.   Videos on You.Tube and PBS are especially great.
        e.   How much can you “teach” before you go? Be realistic on what they can read/discuss there – I
             thought I’d have more time to discuss in the van – that was before I had to compete with water
             buffalo and car sickness!
        f.   Local desensitization: Can you meet with your students prior to the trip in an environment that is
             similar to the one you will travel to?
        g.   CDs –and MP3’s -- I created listening CD’s for students where we read the materials for them in
             addition to giving them the written format.
        h.   Journals are important (blogs and websites are nice to track you!)
        i.   Can they meet up with college students there? Our students loved this! They learned more
             about culture with the Cambodian Students!

7. Behavioral Issues and Rules we Found Useful
      a. Prepare students for time schedules and flexibility.
                i. Students need to be prepared for being on time yet – being ok w/delays!
               ii. This can cause interpersonal conflict.
      b. Team building (Eagle Bluff would be ideal – only 18.00 extra in your budget + gas).
                i. Sometimes the hardest thing about culture shock is the shock of being together 24/7
      c. Rules about drinking and going out…
                i. “If you aren’t 21 in MN, you aren’t 21 here.” This was my rule.
      d. Curfews keep people safe
                i. While I love flexibility, this is essential!
               ii. We allowed exceptions for groups if approved in advance.
      e. It is not “your decision” to do risky things – we all are impacted
                i. We stressed that if you get into trouble, it reflects on us all and we won’t get to go back!
                   This worked well.

8. Packing Lists – Beyond the Basics (I have a basic list online)
      a. Provide students with a packing list – it helps them.
      b. First Aid Kit
      c. Extras – I packed tons of extras and then we donated what we didn’t need to local folks. I even
          packed medication for bladder infection/yeast infection medications since so many women go on
          antibiotics or use Malaria prevention pills. I didn’t bring enough tampons & feminine pads.
      d. I wish I had required power/protein bars and recommended vitamins.
      e. Presents/Gifts for officials you will work with.
      f. Really have them bring extra eyeglasses or contacts! You can not replace this in a developing
          nation!
      g. A RCTC T-shirt all can wear.
      h. Donations? Will students be asked to bring donations?
                i. What is really useful (e.g., carrying $00.10 notebooks might not be “worth it” if paper is
                   inexpensive there).
               ii. Also – there is no “ideal” donation – if you wait too long for ideal items, you may have
                   none.
              iii. Ask!
              iv. Don’t distribute to individuals if there is a big group – give to the principal, community
                   leaders, etc.
9. Photos and Videos
      a. Get permissions for use of photos – release forms.
      b. Assign a student to video tape the trip – it is amazing what you can see after the trip. In some
          developing nations, to hire a camera person is very minimal.
      c. Record the students’ before and after reactions.
      d. Have a system to share photos (facebook, Ning KODAK space).



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10. When is enough Preparation Enough?
      a. You will never be “all ready” – but ask a colleague to go over your plans and Dean Mollberg.
      b. After preparation – just go for it! Like housecleaning, exercising and grading – it seems that one
           more thing can be done…but that’s ok!

MY PERSONAL DREAMS and VISONS

1. Having a lead Administrator on this topic is the number one “Need” and that has been filled w/ Dr. Barb
   Mollberg. Dreams and visions associated with this person include:
       a. Providing assistance and encouragement in the planning process.
       b. Becoming a go-to person for logistical issues – holing copies of passports, itineraries, contacts,
           etc. Being “on-call” in case of emergencies when traveling.
       c. Helping the instructor to contact our Senators/Representatives, Embassy, and MnSCU so they
           know about the trip in case of an extreme emergency.
       d. Assisting the instructor in understanding who needs to give them approval for what (e.g., “Is this
           a Teaching and Learning Decision vs. a Business Office decision?”).
2. Assistance with PR and Recruitment from the RCTC Communications Office
       a. Helping create a brochure
       b. Spreading the word (for example, could our recruiters pass out brochures on our trips too?)
       c. Helping create stories in the press.

3. Website with prominent link on main page when the time is approaching for the deadlines (like we have
    for computer sale).
4. Support from the Business Office with one person assigned as a “go to.” Helping clarify the process.
    Helping to place proper “forms” online on the website.
5. A 24/7 contact person an instructor or student can contact while on the trip is needed. MnSCU could
    even provide this. International Cell Phone -1 or 2 – is needed. We also have cell phones in Cambodia
    from our partners.
6. Funding on the Road – Not everything can be “prepaid” – especially in a developing nation.
         a. Cash
         b. Wired Cash
         c. Credit/Pre-Paid Debit Card
7. Exceptions to the rules – how can an instructor ask for an exception to the rule? Can Vice President
    Bequette or Dean Mollberg provide this permission – it seems several people provide permission.
8. Flexibility in how trips can be funded/offered…Who Sponsors Trip?
         a. Clubs
         b. Classes
         c. Continuing Education
         d. Outside group (Educational Travel Agency)
9. Flexibility in adding an additional instructor/staff person if the trip is successful in recruitment:
         a. WSU builds their Travel Study Trips as business ventures too – if you have more students, you
              can afford another instructor…so once you have enough money to fund yourself, and you
              continue to allow more students to sign up – it makes sense to fund another “helper.”
         b. WSU allows 2 instructors to both teach if there are enough students.
10. Retaining remaining funds from the trip:
         a. Should a trip have extra money, it would be nice to keep this as “start up” money for the next
              year.
11. Flexibility on how travel is arranged:
         a. WSU allows for the instructor to decide if the group flies to the destination together or if students
              are responsible for the flight.
         b. What if the student is traveling with family prior to after the trip? Or wants a solo experience?
         c. What if the student has “miles” already?
12. Misc.
         a. Can RCTC provide the group with “thank-you” packets and t-shirts for the students to wear? (t-
              shirts, pens, pencils, banners, etc.).




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