Be World Ready: Lead an IFS Trip for Winter 2020

Twenty-three NC students are pictured on their IFS trip to India in Spring 2019. Students engaged in meaningful applied community work in outreach clinics. Pictured at the Golden Temple in India, the trip was led by dental office administration co-ordinator and Dental programs professor, Ruth French Schultz, and Practical Nursing program professor, Mark Grabner.

Another successful winter term comes to a close, and NC students, staff and faculty celebrate their successes and reflect on how to make next year’s winter term even better. One of the many ways is through the Be World Ready (BWR)’s International Field Studies (IFS) Winter 2020 trips.

Applications to Lead an IFS for the Winter 2020 term are now being accepted until August 2, 2019.

The professional development benefits of becoming an IFS lead are vast and include: further developing professional soft skills, expanding professional networks and international industry contacts, learning first-hand global best practices in specific fields of study, becoming more deeply involved with NC’s strategic plan to become more culturally and globally engaged as well as engaging on a deeper level with NC students.

“It connects me with the world our students are living in now. I get to help students develop their skills while enhancing my own,” said Mark Grabner, professor, School of Nursing and Personal Support Worker. “It also helps me to be more relevant in my practice. The Nursing program covers community care and cultural competence in almost every course and the experiences the students have during their IFS directly relate.”

Led in partnership with dental office administration coordinator and Dental programs professor, Ruth French Schultz, and Practical Nursing program professor, Mark Grabner, the spring 2018 BWR IFS trip to Ecuador involved IFS participants assisting nearly 1,400 Ecuadorians in one week. Grabner is pictured in the second row on the right.

Grabner led his fifth IFS trip, April 20 to May 2, to India where 23 NC students worked in the healthcare sector in community outreach clinics. “When I started at NC, a senior student asked about doing mission work and I jumped at the opportunity to develop our first trip back in 2014,” said Grabner. “I was motivated to lead the trip because I wanted to ensure that the students had a nurse with plenty of experience in Social Justice.”

Grabner would recommend IFS to fellow faculty and staff as it is rewarding to see students grow throughout the experience. It’s also an opportunity to meet educational and community leaders from around the world and experience their processes. “Cultural competency is crucial in nursing,” added Grabner. “As Canada becomes more diverse, it’s very important for nurses and nursing students to be aware of their client’s cultural needs. I have seen the students that travel with me become more mindful, courageous and culturally competent as a result of their journeys.”

Not only do the IFS trips change the lives of NC students, but they also have the potential to have a global impact. Led in partnership with Ruth McMullan, professor in the School of Allied Health Studies, Grabner’s last Spring IFS trip to Ecuador involved IFS participants assisting nearly 1,400 Ecuadorians in one week. Read the full article here.

Trips abroad are typically 10 days, including travel days, and destinations may be suggested by the department leads or in cooperation with the office of Cultural and Global Engagement.

School of Technology professor, Joseph Otta, was inspired by his students to get involved with a BWR IFS trip after having a discussion with his Mechanical Engineering Technology class last fall. Not having all of the answers to their questions about international opportunities in their field, Otta approached the BWR team and learned about IFS. He felt supported by Maxine Semple and the BWR team who he described as knowledgeable and passionate about their work. Now leading an IFS Fall 2019 trip to Germany, Otta worked with the Cultural and Global Engagement team to create a well rounded experience for the students.

“I am a strong advocate for building educational opportunities to help facilitate experiential learning for both myself and my students,” shared Otta. “I am a true believer in learning through life experiences and feel the IFS trip is a great avenue for professional development. The trip will help to further develop positive relationships with my students and will promote new industry connections abroad.”

Otta explained how the Mechanical Engineering Technology program creates immersive experiences for students and strives to create real life industry experiences with the intent to motivate learning. “I am so excited to see how the students will react to a new experience in another country,” said Otta. “Not only will students get to observe world class technology, I know their lives will be enriched because this opportunity will allow them to investigate the world beyond their immediate environment by experiencing old history and new cultural ideas.”

Because Mechanical Engineering Technology is a co-op program, Otta hopes the IFS will inspire future students who have a desire to live and work abroad. “I think it is important to recognize, appreciate and understand the perspectives of others globally,” said Otta. “I believe we all can learn new approaches to solving problems by being open-minded about new philosophies, work cultures, and understanding of others differences. Learning how to communicate ideas with diverse audiences and across cultures creates a competitive advantage for individuals and organizations.”

For more information regarding BWR, visit:

For the IFS trip lead application, visit: