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OLT Program Provides New Skills for International Students

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Sep 18, 2017 04:00 PM |

Every August, WTA’s Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT) program treks down to Green River College in Auburn for a workshop that gives WTA the chance to work with international students and gives those students the skills they need to lead outdoor trips. Our team is joined by six students from the International Student Ambassador (ISA) program, along with Green River staff.

Every August, WTA’s Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT) program treks down to Green River College in Auburn for a workshop that gives WTA the chance to work with international students and gives those students the skills they need to lead outdoor trips. Our team is joined by six students from the International Student Ambassador (ISA) program, along with Green River staff.

OLT photo by Green River College staff.jpgHiking and camping are often the most popular trips among Green River College students, many of them experiencing Washington's public lands for the first time. Photo by John Spurgin.

The ISA program, now more than 15 years old and offered through the Student Life Office at Green River College, gives students from around the world a chance to gain experience in planning, organizing and executing student-led excursions. The outings provide students a well-rounded educational experience by increasing opportunities for social get-togethers, physical exercise and awe-inspiring sights.

The international students lead the trips, which are open to anyone. Previous trips have included a variety of activities, such as rowing, fencing, skiing, visiting museums, camping and hiking. These events not only provide an opportunity for students to make connections with the natural world, but they also help acclimate international students to American culture and give them experiences that may not be possible without help.

The OLT program is a key part of making these adventures possible. In addition to training student ambassadors and Green River staff on how to lead successful outdoor experiences, we also provide access to our gear library. Having free access to tents, boots, snowshoes and sleeping bags allows the college to minimize costs and keep the trips accessible to a wider range of students.

The ambassadors have had an overwhelmingly positive response, speaking fondly of the training and saying it made it easier for them to work with the other trip leaders.“The Outdoor Leadership Training has empowered our staff and student leaders and given them the confidence to provide an excellent outdoor experience for many of our domestic and international students,” said John Spurgin, the activities assistant at Green River.

“It is an amazing learning experience and I think it will be super helpful for all the student leaders when they go on a hiking trip in the future,” a former ambassador said.

IMG_0305.JPGA little snow won't put a stop to Green River's outdoor trips. Snowshoeing is another popular choice among students. Photo by John Spurgin.

Green River College, which serves more than 1,600 international students each year, can make a difference in not only the Auburn community, but worldwide. At the end of their studies, the students return to their home countries with a new skill set and new interests. Several students have even ventured back to Washington as Green River alumni, bringing their hometown friends and family out for an ISA trip.

“We’ve been really impressed with the breadth of activities offered by GRC’s Student Life and international programs, and it’s been exciting to help their staff and student leaders add more outdoor activities to their offerings,” said Andrew Pringle, OLT manager. “We started the OLT program with a focus on reaching traditional school-age youth, but community partners like GRC have shown us that there are other important populations of young people who’ve otherwise had limited opportunities to explore Washington’s outdoors, and that WTA can really help reduce the barriers to enjoying those experiences.”

This article originally appeared in the Sept+Oct 2017 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.

 

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