Front Royal grad plans studies in Oman
Warren County High School graduate and Virginia Tech junior Tori Graham is looking forward to the possibility of enriching her intercultural education during a new study abroad program this coming summer in Muscat, the capital city of Oman.
Graham began planning for the study abroad trip well in advance, setting up a GoFundMe page in October to help her raise money for the experience. Although she said the total costs involved with plane tickets, living expenses and tuition could cost up to $10,000, her goal for the campaign is $5,911 – the amount needed for the program fee plus application fees.
Graham said she decided to concentrate her collegiate studies around international affairs after taking an International Trade and Development course at Tech.
“Honestly, I was just sitting in my room one day and I was struggling with a question everyone else was struggling with – what am I going to do with my life?” she said.
She decided to pursue Virginia Tech’s new Arabic minor alongside an international studies minor because of the challenge and relevance in today’s world. On her GoFundMe page, she said she aims to work for the government in trade and foreign relations.
At the Arabic Language Club’s regular meetings over coffee to further discuss members’ mutual interest, Graham found out about the new minor’s first study abroad program for the upcoming summer. She estimated that around 40 students are interested in the limited number of slots.
“You’d think people would be closed minded to an area of the world like that, so it’s nice seeing people taking an interest in it,” she said.
While in Muscat for the month-long program, Graham would take credit classes toward her Arabic minor at the Center for International Learning and partner up with a student from the nearby university to learn more about the area firsthand and converse with a local. She said she thinks the program will help to narrow her educational focus while fleshing out her knowledge of Arabic language and cultures.
Further down the road, she said she hopes to be able to clear up cultural myths and help to foster positive relations between countries.
“I think it’s important for kids my age to take the initiative to learn more about those cultures and create a bridge of communication,” she said.
The trip would also mark the first time Graham has been overseas. She said she’s a little nervous about the plane travel, although the benefits of immersive education far outweigh her concerns.
“I didn’t think I’d be this excited to go that far away from home, but I think I’ll get more nervous as it gets closer, definitely,” she said. “I think that this trip is going to be really awesome for me to get first-hand experience there … it’s more of just a way for me to get acclimated to the culture and understand what I’m getting into.”
Graham said she recently decided she wants to pursue a master’s degree in international policy but she’s not sure about schools yet. At the same time, she plans to expand her horizons and in her words, “take on another part of the world” by studying other languages and countries.
Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org