Video: State of the University
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Published Sep. 05, 2012
As part of Lynn University’s plan to expand its study abroad opportunities, the school has established the new Center for Learning Abroad, and Brian Pirttima, a professional with more than a decade of intercultural experience, has been named director of the center.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to develop a first-class international study abroad and exchange program and contribute to the international reputation of Lynn University,” says Pirttima.
Pirttima will bring his extensive experience in the field to direct the operation of the center. Prior to his position at Lynn, Pirttima was the executive director for Experiential Learning Abroad Programs (ELAP) and Learning Programs International (LPI) in Austin, Tex. In these roles he spearheaded new initiatives and the implementation of service learning and internship programs in nine countries and more than 20 study abroad programs yearly in six countries; and developed a service learning curriculum used during programs abroad to maximize the experience for students.
As director of the CLA, he will be responsible for developing and overseeing study abroad and exchange opportunities, advising students on study abroad options and assisting them with the application process.
“We will work with faculty and staff to assist students in selecting the most beneficial programs and prepare them through orientations to help ensure a successful experience abroad, says Pirttima. “Additionally, we will oversee the management of the incoming student exchange program and contribute to the success of international students at Lynn.”
Originally from Ocala, Fla., Pirttima says he is a product of what study abroad can do. He had no real international exposure in his first 18 years. But all that changed during his freshman year in college when the school’s basketball team was invited to Santiago, Chile.
“It was my first exposure to another country, my “aha” moment,” he says. “We were treated like all-stars, even signing autographs. And I didn’t even play!”
But that experience took him on the path to international studies which became his major. Through his education and professional careers he has spent considerable time abroad. He studied in Spain on three different occasions and worked developing and implementing study abroad programs there.
“Exploring other countries, their people and their cultures has fundamentally changed the way I view the world, and having the opportunity to assist students gain a broader perspective and learn about the greater world around them is what makes working in study abroad so gratifying,” says Pirttima.
And he knows firsthand the importance of U.S. students studying abroad.
“It is so important to learn about other societies and cultures – that we are not alone - and to go beyond a 'tourist' view of a culture,” he says. “Any exposure to a different country can be beneficial, however, I believe when a country or location relates to a student’s field of study and the program is academically driven, the experience becomes more relevant and has the potential to be transformative.”
He also plans to develop new programming for Lynn’s large international student population--nearly 25 percent of the student body.
“The Center for Learning Abroad was established with the idea of serving both out-bound study abroad students as well as international students studying at Lynn. We will also work with faculty and staff to develop activities/programming that will provide our domestic students with the perspective of their international peers,” says Pirttima.
Brian Pirttima, Center for Learning Abroad director, was most recently the executive director for Experiential Learning Abroad Programs (ELAP) in Austin, Tex., and from 2005-2012, he was executive director of Learning Programs International (LPI) in Austin, Tex. He has more than a decade of intercultural experience in management, marketing and international education, and leading educational and internship programs abroad.
He was a bilingual humanities professor in Leon, Mexico; an international area manager for LanguageCourseNet in Barcelona, Spain; and regional coordinator for the International Alliance for Academic Programs de Mexico (IAAP) in Leon, Mexico.
Pirttima received his B.A., in International Studies at Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Va., and a Master of Liberal Arts in U.S. Influence in Latin America during the 20th Century at the University of Richmond, Va. He received a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship to Universidad de Deusto in San Sebastion, Spain, and a postgraduate degree in educational organization from the Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.
He can discuss: study abroad (international education), living and working abroad, intercultural management and marketing, international studies with concentrations in Latin America and Europe, Spanish language and culture, and Latin American and Spanish history.