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UNG seeks expansion of language abroad studies
Program to continue despite concerns about terrorism in Europe
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John Wilson, associate vice president of international programs at University of North Georgia, said the school has about 350 students go abroad each year.

To sign up for study abroad

* Website: http://ung.edu/global-engagement/fsla/

* Click on: FLSA abroad page

* Deadline: May 1

A language-study abroad program for high school students is expanding at the University of North Georgia. And all of this is happening even as university officials pore over documents and exchange information with European officials about potential safety risks because of the terrorist attacks in Brussels in March and Paris in November.

UNG offers instruction in eight languages during the summer for high school students, and the school started a three-week program in Germany in 2015. The same instruction is being offered in France this summer, but not enough students have signed up for it yet.

The Foreign Service Language Academy at UNG has provided three-week camps – one each in June and July – for six years at the Dahlonega campus. Languages offered are Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Korean, German, Japanese, Cherokee and Portuguese.

John Wilson, associate vice president of international programs at UNG, said the school has about 350 students go abroad each year, but he said the FLSA is a bit different because of the age of the students.

Students must be at least 16 and in their third year of studying the language – German or French. They also must be dual enrolled in UNG and their high school.

They receive college and high school credit when they participate in FLSA abroad, Wilson said. The language camps during the summer do not require dual enrollment, Wilson said.

Ten students went to Germany in 2015, Wilson said, and “it was really a successful program.” He said another group will go to Germany this summer.

The first deadline for signing up was Friday. The final deadline for the France program is May 1.

Wilson said terrorism fears have “impacted that program – we’ve had a lot of calls about it. In general, it always seems to come back to ‘is it going to be safe?’”

“Security is the primary concern in any study abroad program,” Wilson said.

He noted students stay in homes of families in the host country, and the university that UNG works with in Europe checks out the families.

He said he talks with his counterparts at the university – in France this year, it would be in Angers, about an hour southwest of Paris, at the Catholic University of the West.

Consultations are held regularly with the international office of the Georgia Board of Regents, he said. Wilson checks information from the U.S. State Department and Army institutions in the area.

He noted the study abroad programs are naturals for cadets because cultural history and traditions are part of the courses.

He said the university would like to have study-abroad programs for each of the languages. However, Wilson noted some countries “are difficult” – such as Arabic-speaking ones.

“There’s certainly more of an awareness” because of the terrorist attacks, Wilson said. But, he added, he would argue “more not less” programs for sending students abroad is “the way ahead” because it exposes everyone to different cultures and promotes more understanding.

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