Where are they now?
Eric Sneddon served Central students as the London study abroad residential director from 2001 to 2009. Today, Sneddon still works in London—now as associate director for New York University’s academic center.
Sneddon now oversees a much larger program—more than 450 undergraduates per semester—but said Central’s small size is truly an asset.
“I am proud that I can still count former colleagues amongst my friends, and whenever I meet (Central) program alums, there is an immediate happy bond through having a shared experience,” Sneddon says.
Sneddon distinctly remembers the many different trips and excursions he led with students during his time abroad.
“I remember taking my Normandy 1944 class on their weekend fieldtrip to France to visit the Norman beaches and battlefields,” he says. “Lots of laughter and learning, mingled with somber reflections of what young men their age had endured in the cause of freedom—it added layers of emotional and factual comprehension to our textbooks and class-based learning.”
Q: What led to your career abroad?
I have always worked in education, first as a teacher, then as senior management, then in consultancy and business development for international student recruitment into the U.K. I joined the study abroad world in 2001 because I was missing direct contact with students.
Q: What did you like most about working with Central College Abroad?
The people—colleagues among administration, faculty and across the other sites; colleagues from the co-op schools and, especially, the students. … I loved seeing students over the months they spent in London—from wide-eyed ingénues worrying about boyfriends and the football scores back home to increasingly confident, inquisitive and outward-looking young men and women who, despite inevitable setbacks, stresses and worries, always seemed to leave London in tears!
Q: Do you have a favorite memory from Central College Abroad?
At the risk of sounding perverse, one is the London bombings of July 7, 2005. This was obviously a sad, devastating day for our city, and we worked hard to confirm the safety of our students who were with us for the summer program. We were overwhelmed by messages of support from our friends and colleagues across the world and especially from Pella. But most impressive was the resilience of the students and their commitment to continuing with the program—they showed real grit that marked them as honorary Londoners, and it created a special bond because we all shared a momentous experience.
Q: Did you see any major changes during your time with Central?
9/11 occurred in my second week as director, and it is probably fair to say that nothing was the same after that—especially the emphasis on safety and security. However, I enjoyed seeing considerable growth in the number of opportunities that nurtured students’ cross-cultural experiences—especially internships, service learning, extra-curricular excursions and summer programs.
Q: Do you have any advice for students considering studying abroad?
First, do it! As long as you’re able to keep pace with your degree courses, it will add to your education and your growth as a citizen of the globe in immeasurable ways.
Q: Any final thoughts?
I have had the privilege to work for two excellent universities, both committed to providing opportunities for students to expand their education by studying abroad. They go about their work in completely different ways—but as we remind students frequently, different does not necessarily mean better or worse. The main difference is that at Central, study abroad has coursed through the veins of the whole university for 50 years and touches the work of faculty, students and administrators. The way this small, Midwestern college came to be such a shining beacon for global experience is truly inspiring, and students should grasp these unique opportunities with grateful, open arms.