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2023 - International exchange program fosters new friendships and opportunities for ECC employee

Tags: Academics | Faculty Profile | Staff Profile
Published 11/10/2023
From left to right: Travis Linville, Jaques Veshagen, Beth Hultman, and Nadia Kettani

From left to right: Travis Linville, Jaques Veshagen, Beth Hultman, and Nadia Kettani

The opportunity to study abroad doesn’t end as a student. Beth Hultman, public services librarian, and Travis Linville, professor of photography, recently hosted international guests from the Netherlands in their homes and on Elgin Community College’s campus through ECC’s Center for Global Engagement and the Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs (ICISP).

“I lived in Spain to study abroad as a student, and I just loved it,” said Hultman. “I love Europe and want to go there again!” This is Hultman's first time doing an international exchange, and she paired with Nadia Kettani from Koning Willem College in the Netherlands.

Kettani is a Student Guide and like Hultman, experienced her first exchange. Her eagerness to learn about American education and seek adventure drew her to participate. “I saw this as a chance to go abroad and experience a whole different school system,” said Kettani. “Every conversation has been interesting, especially those with students. They give me another perspective and have shared their dreams and goals with me. I’ve learned so much about their lives and what it’s like to be a student in America.”

Linville paired with Jaques Veshagen, professor of journalism for Aventus College in the Netherlands. Like the others, it was Veshagen’s first time doing an exchange, while Linville has participated in two prior. “I’ve found them to be really rewarding,” said Linville. “The program tries to match people within the same discipline, but I think there are some real advantages when it’s not a perfect match. Mine and Jacques's fields are not identical, but they have much in common, and our differences allow us to learn something new.”

Throughout their three-week stay, Kettani and Veshagen met with various staff and faculty, sat in different classrooms, and explored the community outside of campus. Both acknowledged the makeup of ECC’s student body, particularly the number of part-time students. “Nearly every student I talked with had a part- or full-time job to pay for their education and support themselves,” said Veshagen. “They are very motivated here, and we see that in their student clubs. At the end of the day, our students go home. Here, they come together. It’s incredible.” Veshagen also had the opportunity to teach a journalism class.

Showing their exchange partners around campus opened up ECC in a new way for both Hultman and Linville. “Having them here has allowed me to see so much more of our campus,” said Hultman. “I’ve met more people these last few weeks than I ever have working here.” To which Linville echoed to some of their out-of-work excursions. “Whenever you’re showing someone around, you get to experience the places you frequent differently.”

The foursome explored downtown Chicago, attended a Chicago Bulls game, took a bike tour around Elgin, experienced Nightmare on Chicago in downtown Elgin, enjoyed a comedy show, and much more. After three weeks, a tight bond has formed, and they’re all looking forward to meeting again in the spring when Hultman and Linville travel to the Netherlands.

“I’m so happy I can say I now have two amazing friends in Europe,” said Hultman.

For more information on international exchange programs at ECC, visit