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Craig Brookins

I consider myself an AfriKan Community Psychologist. A community psychologist by training which means working with people seeking ways to improve themselves and their communities. The "K" in the African spelling represents communities of people throughout the African Diaspora. This has included my hometown of Chicago, Lansing and Detroit Michigan where I went to school, Raleigh and Durham, Ghana West Africa, and of course, students here at NC State.

  • My Program
  • Advice for Students
  • Advice for Faculty Directors

Where do you lead a program?

Over the years I've led student study abroad to Ghana and Tanzania. I've also taken groups of faculty on study trips to Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda.

How long have you run your study abroad program?

Since 1997.

What makes your study abroad program unique?

There are many universities operating study abroad programs in Ghana. We've been told by others and have observed that we run one of the better study abroad programs there. The educational experience is primarily conveyed through the Ghanaian people including faculty, families, tour guides and others. This emphasis allows students to understand the experience through the eyes of the people who live it. In addition, our orientation prepares students particularly well so that they are ready upon hitting the ground to make the most of the journey.

What stands out as your favorite memory from the study abroad programs that you have directed?

The nervous excitement, furrowed brows, screams, smiles, puzzled looks, wide eyes, laughs and sighs of relief from students who are engaged in things they never thought they would have an opportunity to do.

If you could give prospective students one piece of advice about
study abroad, what would it be?

There is an old joke about Columbus that says when he embarked on his journey he didn't know where he was going, when he got there he didn't know where he was, and when he returned he didn't know where he had been. You don't want to be like Columbus, particularly when you go to Africa. Go for the right reasons. Learn as much as you can about the history, people and culture before you go, listen, and let how you come to understand the place be primarily through the eyes of the people with whom you have interacted.

What are you looking for from the students who apply to your program?

A genuine desire to understand Africa as a part of our global society.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Faculty Director?

My first study abroad experience was as a graduate student more than 25 years ago and I remember what a powerful impact it had on my life personally and professionally. Helping students to have similar opportunities and experiences is the most rewarding aspect.

If you could give new Faculty Directors of study abroad programs one piece of advice about leading a program, what would it be?

Study Abroad is unlike any other teaching you have experienced. The entire journey is the classroom. Model the behavior that will lead to a successful experience identified in Advice for Students. A strong orientation before and upon arriving at the location has been most effective for us in preventing subsequent problems. Keep a journal yourself and don't wait until you return to organize your records and receipts.

What marketing tips would you suggest to your fellow Faculty Directors to encourage more NC State students to study abroad?

Identify how your program and the courses can fit into students plans of study. Create opportunities for students who have participated in previous trips to speak with prospective students. Emphasize the availability of financial aid. We video recorded our interest meeting this year and made it available online for student access. Don't know yet if it will make a difference. We're also developing a dedicated online web page and social networking site to highlight programs from previous years.