Disability in Southeast Europe: Qualitative Analysis of a Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program


  • Shay Dawson Central Michigan University
  • Cedomir Stanojevic Clemson University
  • Bryan McCormick Temple University
  • Daniela Tamas University of Novi Sad
  • Fadilj Eminovic University of Belgrade
  • Lauren Lomax Midwestern University – Downers' Grove
  • LeAnn Wheeler Central Michigan University




Study Abroad, Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions, Recreational Therapy, Field Experience


This study documents the perceptions of recreational therapy students who took part in an international faculty-led study abroad experience for 3 weeks in Serbia, Romania, and Croatia. Students volunteered in institutions, schools, and a camp for individuals with disabilities as well as taking part in cultural experiences. Participant video journals were recorded pre-trip, during the trip, and shortly after returning from studying abroad to garner student perspectives. Using a general qualitative approach, responses were transcribed verbatim, coded, and then arranged in over-arching themes. Pre-trip themes focused on looking forward to the experience coupled with anxiety. During the trip perceptions included, a positive impact from working in programs with clients who have disabilities as well as developing relationships with peers in the program cohort. Upon return and reflection, students expressed a perceived overall growth professionally and personally from the trip, a positive experience, life-long relationships that were firmly established, a gratefulness for the experience, and finally, helpful suggestions for future improvements.


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