One of The New York Foundling’s Dorm Project students at Queens College has had the opportunity of a lifetime to study abroad in Greece this winter.
Now in her second year, this student, who is working toward a degree in early childhood education, has seized the opportunity to broaden her horizons by studying government and non-government organizations working with refugees and immigrants.
“I think that a student in the Dorm Project should really take the opportunity (to study abroad) because of what it allows any student or person to see,” says Chrystine, the student’s Dorm Project Success Coach. “When we look at our young people today, they’re focused on their immediate environment. Many people have maybe never been outside of their borough. Going outside your borough — and your country — allows for an opening view.”
Plus, she adds, students get to interact with new people outside of their familiar social circles, making new connections, and hopefully coming home with a new mindset and view of the world, their career and their life goals.
The Dorm Project, in partnership with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, allows teens in foster care the opportunity to attend college at CUNY schools across New York City and live in the dorms free of charge, and also matches them with a success coach to ensure their post-secondary education success.
As a college success coach, Chrystine’s job is to make sure her students are doing well in school, attending their tutoring appointments, picking the right classes, making it to class on time, learning time and money management, and more.
She’s been working with this young woman for two years, since her freshman year at Queens College. The student, Chrystine says, has grown tremendously, and she hopes this experience will further aid that growth.
“Even going on this trip for her was a huge step because the thought of leaving and not having the immediate connection with family was frightening for her,” Chrystine says. Now, she’s taken a step outside of her comfort zone, but still has the support she needs back home thanks to regular check-ins with Chrystine.
Chrystine herself studied abroad in China during college. The unforgettable experience changed her perspectives and taught her a lot about herself. From the experience in studying abroad in Greece, Chrystine hopes her student finds the same to be true.
“I want her to learn that she is capable,” she says, “and despite all of the anxiety around trying new things, if you put yourself out there, great things will happen.”