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Education is a big issue in northern Michigan, whether we're reporting on school funding issues to breakthroughs in the classroom.

NMC greatly expands study abroad

Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City has more than doubled its study abroad program since 2012. Jim Bensley, director of international services, says the school plans to send 80 students to six countries this year – including Cuba.

“Obviously, it’s a country that’s been closed for so long to citizens from the United States, so just taking a step back, not only back in time, but into another dimension of government, essentially,” he says of the trip.

Bensley says he believes NMC now sends more students abroad than any other community college in Michigan. That’s based on an informal survey his office conducted of the state’s larger community colleges.

He says exposure to foreign places becomes increasingly relevant for students, and travel is closely tied to study.

“They’re not trips to see the great monuments and experience other cultures,” he says. “Although that’s good, we want it to be closely related to what they may be doing in the future.”

The school plan to continue to expand study abroad and hopes to send 100 students abroad next school year.