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Educational tourism initiative a ‘success’

An initiative for “educational tourism” has been declared a resounding success by the first student group to sample the Island's charms.

The team of six, from Mercer University in Georgia, called on Bermuda last week to explore the interplay between the Island's healthcare and business system.

The scheme, known as BLSD Bermuda, was founded earlier this year by Tinashe Chapfika Johnson, with her husband Jeremy Johnson.

“If the question is ‘Why Bermuda?' then the answer is: because it's paradise,” said Chinekwu Obidoa, a professor of global health at Mercer.

The university emphasises study abroad but had never sent students to Bermuda, giving last week's team a new and unique classroom to examine.

The six students were shown around the Island by Lance Furbert, Bermuda's former curator of forts, with help from Mr Johnson.

With their areas of study combining health, international business and accounting, the group called on Parliament to watch MPs debating tobacco legislation and meet with Michael Dunkley, the Premier, as well as Opposition MP Wayne Furbert.

Other visits ranged from King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and WindReach Disability Centre, to the Bermuda College, Butterfield Bank and the Packwood Rest Home, where the group sang carols for seniors.

“Our professor came to visit earlier this summer and decided that Bermuda would be a good place to bring us to look at health policies and the social determinants that play into them,” said Lakendra Young, an undergraduate medical student studying global health.

Aaron Scherf, a business student, described the trip as “an all-encompassing look at what determines the health of a population”.

The study visit “evolved into something bigger than we planned”, according to Devin Blais, also studying global health. The visitors were struck by unique features ranging from the Island's British influence — and prices, said global health student Alexandra Collins.

For accounting and finance student Sally Idehen, the Island's beauty proved eye-opening: “I know a lot of us are planning on returning here when we get a chance,” she said.

Amoré Jones, a global health student also studying Spanish, the chance to spend a week on the experiencing the Island first-hand proved “highly rewarding”.

BLSD Bermuda is aimed at festering relationships between United States students and Bermuda, Mrs Johnson explained: the company's name is a riff on how Bermuda is “blessed with astounding natural beauty, friendly people, an intricate history and fascinating participation in the global economy”. Coordinating the Mercer trip will be used to design “future trips to Bermuda from other university study abroad programmes”, she said.

Successful launch: from the left, Jeremy Johnson, Tinashe Johnson, Lance Furbert, Prof Chinekwu Obidoa, Alexandra Collins, Devin Blais, Sally Idehen, Amore Jones, Lakendra Young and Aaron Scherf (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

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Published December 22, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 22, 2015 at 12:23 am)

Educational tourism initiative a ‘success’

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