Q&A: Tamara Brattoli talks in-depth on JJC Study Abroad

With JJC’s Study Abroad Program bringing students to China and Japan next spring, JJC Coordinator of International Education Tamara Brattoli took time to discuss briefly on traveling to these countries.  

Q: How is it that students are able to pay an affordable price to travel to another country for the program?

A: We are very careful with our budgeting. So we are able to get group air fares, which are cheaper than if you were to book a flight on your own. We work with colleges in Japan and China that host our students, and provide us with student accommodations, which are cheaper if you were going to go rental or hotel room. Students do share hotel rooms when we go to places like Beijing or Tokyo. We are just really mindful of a budget so that we can do it in an inexpensive way. In China, we are able to do it really inexpensively because the faculty who leads China is Mike Hainzinger and he speaks Chinese. So he volunteered himself as a translator to our driver. We hire a driver to get us out to the Great Wall because you can’t get there really easily on your own. The driver is not very much (price), and he has been to these places before and is able to talk about much of the area, which is good since we don’t have to hire a tour guide.

Q: How many days to students stay in the country?

A: They are both set up very similarly and usually last two to three weeks, depending on how we are planning the flights and everything. Generally, in Japan, we spend about two weeks in a city called Matsuyama. Even though it’s small by Japanese standards Matsuyama has a Starbucks and McDonald’s. We stay there, students take classes by JJC faculty in the morning and in the afternoon they have field trips. Students also participate in social activities with local students. A day-trip to Hiroshima is another activity done. On the last five days of the trip, we take a bullet train to Kyoto in Tokyo. The program in China is set up a little bit differently due to the geography of where we go. We usually start in northern China from Shang Hai to a city called Nanjing, which is Chicago-sized, but pretty small by China’s standards. We visit Beijing, the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City. This year, we hope to bring students to these rice terraces in southern China.

Q: Why do you feel a study abroad program is significant for students to be a part of?

A: I think it’s important because so many of our students don’t have the opportunity to travel internationally, but yet the world is a global place. And if you are not aware of other cultures and able to work with people from other environments, I think you are missing out on important skills that you need in life. You never know what job you are going to end up with and you never know what sort of people from other countries you are going to be working with. Even learning the minor things, like how in Japan you need to take your shoes off indoors and bow to people rather than shake hands is good practice for students. Also, we are able to take students to countries that most Americans don’t visit and that I think most of our students wouldn’t be comfortable visiting on their own. Once you go to places like this, it makes you more comfortable traveling to other places. And that’s the purpose of college, right? To open up your mind to new experiences.

For more info, visit the program’s page or contact Brattoli at tbrattol@jjc.edu.