New director of International Programs brings fresh perspective

Offering more programs, streamlining the application process and expanding office space in the works.

Sarah O’Carroll Viking Fusion Reporter

The new director of International Programs at Berry, Chris Borda, said that though the past couple months have been a “bit of a whirlwind,” he’s excited about the transition underway.

Borda, who began at Berry in mid-February, said working with other campus offices, expanding the number of study abroad programs and increasing student engagement are a few of his goals as he begins his tenure. Coming from Grand Valley State University, Borda replaced Sarah Egerer.

Adding programs

Borda said he hopes to add more study abroad choices, especially in countries where there are not a lot of programs already represented.

“Some say that too many [options] overwhelm, but I kind of go the other way,” he said. “There are always ways to narrow that pool down, and we want options so that everyone can choose the right one to incorporate in their academic year.”

Borda said Germany is one of the countries where he’d like to pursue a program, which would, in turn, hopefully strengthen and expand the existing language program at Berry.

Going digital

Simplifying the application process to study abroad is going to be a focus, as well, he said, including concentrating into “a single point of contact” all of the requisite information and forms.

“We want to reach people in the ways that they’re already using technology,” he said.

Phone text surveys, promotional videos and an expanded social media presence are other ways the office hopes to better reach students going forward, Borda said.

Joining forces with First-Year Experience and Multicultural Affairs

Another big change on the horizon is the merging of the IP office with the Multicultural and International Student Programs office and the First-Year Experience office.

He said the combined space is to better facilitate collaboration among the offices.

“We’ll be working together on a lot of the same projects,” he said. “Whether it’s through International Education Week or other events, there’s a lot of different ways we can work together and enhance what’s available to students,” he said.

Construction to combine the three offices will begin during early summer, according to Borda.

Message to students

For the student reluctant leave the familiar to live in a foreign country, Borda says, “Just do it. Don’t delay. Don’t think of excuses, because there are always excuses.”

“There’s no growth in a comfort zone, and there’s no comfort in a growth zone,” Borda quoted, as one of his favorite quotes.

Borda, who studied abroad in both El Salvador and Thailand while pursuing a master’s degree in education at Grand Valley State University, moved to Rome this semester along with his wife and two kids. They came to Berry from western Michigan.

“We’ve explored some of the trails around campus, and everyone is really excited to be here,” Borda said. “We’re getting to know Rome and loving the area.”

Egerer joined Berry in July 2003, leaving last September to become director of study abroad at the University of Southern Mississippi.

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