Tufts European Center announces virtual summer programs

The plaque for the Tufts University European center in Talloires, France is pictured Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Tufts European Center announced that of their three annual summer programs, two will be held virtually and one will be canceled entirely for summer 2021. The European Center traditionally offers three short-term summer programs abroad: Tufts in Talloires, Tufts in Annecy and Tufts Summit.

“It was a particularly sad decision for us. We are deeply committed to in-person international exchange,” Gabriella Goldstein, director of the Tufts European Center, wrote in an email to the Daily. “However, given the situation both here and in France, it was the safest decision.”

Tufts in Annecy is a four-week long program normally held in Annecy, France. Students in the program take French language courses aimed at improving their skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening and grammar.

Tufts in Talloires is usually a six-week long program held at the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France. Students take six semester-hour units, with courses available from a wide range of departments and all taught by Tufts professors.

Tufts Summit is typically a four-week long program for rising high school juniors and seniors also held at the Tufts campus in Talloires. Students take two non-credit-bearing courses in international relations and French.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all three programs were canceled for summer 2020. This summer, Tufts in Talloires and Tufts Summit will resume in an all-virtual format. Tufts in Annecy will again be canceled due to its site-specific design.

However, despite the programs being held virtually for the first time, they will still offer a unique experience for students. 

“I’m highly confident in the ability of our team and faculty to create and deliver a rich and robust online experience for our participants,” Diana Chigas, senior international officer and associate provost, wrote in an email to the Daily.

Last summer, the European Center developed a model adapted for COVID-19 for Tufts in Talloires with the hopes that students and faculty would be able to return to France in the summer of 2021. The model, which included two distinct three-week sessions instead of the traditional six-week program, will be retained but modified for virtuality. Tufts Summit will also be three weeks long this year.

“Each [three]-week session will allow students to complete a full course ([three] SHUs) in a much shorter, more intensive format,” Goldstein said. “Our courses will feature Tufts in Talloires’s trademark international lens and will include many of our regular French and European guest speakers, providing a unique perspective that goes beyond the course material itself.” 

There will also be the option of adding a one-SHU culture course designed to give students a look into French life and French history. Classes will be held every day, including weekends, in order for courses to cover all content necessary. Final exams and assignments will be due two weeks after the conclusion of the courses.

Many students who have participated in the programs in the past report positive experiences.

“I loved it. [Going to Talloires] was probably one of the best decisions I made at Tufts,” Julian Lang, a senior who participated in Tufts in Talloires in 2018, said.

Though Tufts in Talloires will be virtual this year, Goldstein hopes to still provide positive experiences for students, and the three-week model may actually help with that. By holding two three-week sessions virtually, students with other commitments over the summer or students located internationally can still be part of the programs. 

“We believe that this condensed, virtual program model will help students who have other commitments in the summer, allowing them to juggle their many priorities, or just let them dive deeply into a course topic,” Goldstein said.

Outside of the virtual classroom, students will still have the opportunity to interact with each other, just as they would if the program were held in France. “Community has always been an important part of the European Center Programs and we will continue to provide a range of activities and opportunities for connection online,” Goldstein said.

Since this year’s programs will be virtual, costs will be significantly lower compared to past years, but students will still have access to scholarships. “We remain committed to making our programs financially accessible to all students,” Goldstein said. 

Despite this year’s programs going virtual, Lang said he believes that students would still benefit from participating in the program

“It’s a good summer program where you get to maybe take a class or … be a part of a group of students that is different from maybe your other classes that you would take during the year,” Lang said. “I’m sure it would be worth doing.”