This May I ventured to Quito, Ecuador, as one of the pioneering students in Georgia State’s first public relations study abroad program. For those of you who are a part of the Communications department, you know this was kind of a big deal. The program was directed by Dr. Richard Welch, the quirky yet genius senior lecturer who teaches the more challenging PR classes in the department. He took myself and five other brave PR students to Quito to work with nonprofit foundations that assist citizens with disabilities. Unlike most study abroad trips, where students take a course at the local university and go on public tours to learn about the city’s culture, our trip was crash course in the life of a real international PR agent. But, before I tell you about my experience, let me explain how I ended up on this crazy journey to Ecuador.
We all know that giving in to peer pressure is something we should avoid in most cases, but when it came to studying abroad I was feeling the pressure head-on. A really good friend of mine had traveled to France, Belgium and Spain in June 2012 for his business program. My coworker, who also worked in the study abroad office, helped plan a trip to the Middle East and was nearly fluent in Arabic. I envied them both so much. I was anxious to find a program to help develop my career and experience with international cultures, but it seemed that every study abroad fair I went to had nothing designed for public relations students.
That’s when I heard about Dr. Welch’s plan. It was a Maymester internship in Quito, Ecuador, working directly with nonprofit groups to create communications plans for their programs. And the cost was not going to empty my bank account! I was determined to go on this trip. The road to prepare everything was a little rough with changing deadlines, student account mix-ups and several students backing out, but after a few months of saving pennies and applying for scholarships, I was standing in the lobby of Akros Hotel in the heart of Quito, and there is where my journey began.
To be continued…