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2021 Corbett Exchange Program goes virtual

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left is a map of the Salish Sea. On the right are 15 zoom attendees.
Natalie Baloy, WWU, leads a workshop for Virtual Corbett Scholars on the Salish Sea in February 2021. Photo credit: Marion Ferguson

April 2, 2021

When the Canada-U.S border closed indefinitely in 2020, the Corbett Exchange Program was—like so many other study abroad programs—forced to adjust. In other years, the goal of the program is to give students immersive, in-person cultural exchange experiences in Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle. As a result of the pandemic, the Canadian Studies Center developed an innovative virtual exchange program to give students from the Universities of Washington, British Columbia, and Victoria the opportunity to connect through shared learning and social experiences. Students receive a reduced award for their completion of the virtual program.

The new program format has come with some surprising benefits. From January-April, students have attended a series of expert-led workshops focused on cross-border topics in the region. At the end of this virtual exchange program, each student will produce a final project investigating a cross-border topic of their choosing. This year’s virtual format allows for a more inclusive and accessible learning experience, and the 2021 Corbett Scholars have had the opportunity to engage more deeply on these topics as a group than students in years past. They have shared with each other video tours of their hometowns, blog posts reflecting on their learning, and social hours filled with both laughter and deep conversation.

“Creating this virtual program has been an incredible opportunity to learn about how we can supplement our in-person exchange program going forward,” said Marion Ferguson, program manager. “I am excited to see how we can incorporate the successful elements of the virtual exchange into a more robust and guided in-person exchange experience for students in the coming years.”

The Corbett British Columbia-Washington International Exchange Program Fund provides an opportunity for undergraduate students at the University of Washington to spend two semesters at the University of British Columbia or University of Victoria; and for students from the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria to spend three quarters at the University of Washington.