Summer 2024 /Global Pomona/

Stray Thoughts: Leaving Campus

Working on a college campus lends itself to looking back on your own college years.

With this issue of the magazine, I think again about how I never considered studying in another country while I was in school.

For one thing, I assumed it was too expensive because the only students I knew who did seemed to be alumni of New England boarding schools and I was from a public high school, one of four children in my family headed to college and already paying out-of-state tuition.

For another, this was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Michael Jordan and Kenny Smith were my contemporaries. I didn’t want to miss any basketball games.

Only when I went to Europe the winter break before my final semester with a friend who was already working and generous with his frequent flyer miles did I see how much more actually using the language I had studied, seeing the art and architecture I had written about and standing in the places where history happened made me want to learn more.

After that—and once I was earning my own frequent flyer miles—I spent a lot of my 20s and 30s traveling to Latin America, various countries in Europe and later to Australia, each time coming back more interested in the literature, languages, history and current-day politics of those places than when I’d left.

Studying internationally already is much more part of the culture at Pomona than it was at UNC then, with about half of Pomona students studying away from campus, either internationally or in a domestic program.

One of the goals of the Global Pomona Project that inspired this issue is that every Pomona student will meaningfully engage with global learning, whether from abroad or here in the U.S.

What’s more, global education on campus is going to get a huge boost in coming years with the announcement of planning for the Pomona College Center for Global Engagement.

As for study away from campus: To ensure equal access for all students, financial aid transfers 100% for students participating in study away through Pomona College during the academic year. In addition, national and program-specific scholarships are available for fall, spring, academic year and summer study away from campus.

Think of that: A student reliant almost entirely on financial aid has as much chance to study internationally as one whose family goes to Europe on vacations.

Simply the awareness that it’s possible for any student to study in another country or another part of the U.S. means so much. I hope scanning the list of countries and cities on the list at the Office of International and Domestic Programs and its website will become as common as looking at the catalog to pick classes for upcoming semesters.

Thinking about all the opportunities Pomona students have starts to make me want to travel again after years of being worn out from traveling for work. Which brings me to personal news: My six-plus years at Pomona are coming to an end as I take early retirement to spend some vital years with people I love—and maybe do a little freelance study abroad, too.

I’m thankful for my time at the College and the privilege of working on these pages and getting to know so many alumni, students, professors and colleagues who have given me enjoyment, taught me things I didn’t know and kept me feeling younger than I am.

With gratitude,

—Robyn Norwood