By JARRETT SMITH
A group of students at Kennesaw State University is preparing to make history. The Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth at KSU will be taking part in study abroad program this spring.
The Academy, as it is known, is a program that provides students with learning and developmental disabilities a chance at a real college experience academically and socially. The two-year program integrates its students with the traditional population of the university and prepares them for the real world. Next month they will be taking an adventure unlike anything they have imagined. They will be going to the Middle East.
The Academy students will be going to the United Arab Emirates during spring break and they won’t be alone. They are planning to travel with four students from Kennesaw State’s Sport Management program as well.
The trip will be the first of its kind for KSU students. In fact, a study abroad program like this will be the first of its kind in the nation.
The Academy’s Academic and Social Advisor, Julia Conger explained that the program was so unique.
“This is the first time the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth has done a study abroad partnership with another program,” she said.
Conger said other schools have sent students with disabilities on study abroad programs. Those students traveled with traditional students who were working toward special education degrees. That will not be the case for KSU’s Academy students.
Student Assistant, Stephen Poole works with the Academy students on a daily basis. He will be traveling with them to UAE during spring break. He hopes the trip will be the first of many.
“Hopefully they can use what we learn to make sure other people can run these kinds of trips later on,” said Poole.
Conger said each Academy student would be paired with a student from the sport management department during the trip. Conger said she hopes the experience will benefit everyone involved.
“I’m excited about what each party will learn from this experience of traveling together. We look at it as being even more inclusive,” she said.
The trip will last 12 days and will involve travel to numerous cities in UAE.
Conger said the group would be interacting with other students as well as non-governmental organizations.
The Academy for Inclusive Growth and Social Learning currently has 23 students. The Academy has begun expanding its program to a third year and hopes to eventually offer a four-year experience to many of its students. The group leaves for UAE on April third.