A Final Look at the OCS 50th Anniversary

20 May 2020

The 2019-20 school year marks the 50th anniversary of the Off-Campus Studies Office. As the school year comes to a close, we’re taking a final look at the influence the OCS office has had in the lives of the Carleton community. Since its opening, the OCS office has been an invaluable resource for students to gain life experiences and broaden their horizons through travel to every corner of the world. In the past fifty years, 62% of all Carls have successfully participated in an OCS program and brought back new perspectives that enrich our community as a whole.

One of the first programs Off-Campus Studies offered was a semester in the Ivory Coast in the Summer of 1969. Betty Olson-Jones ‘69 describes the program as a learning experience filled with exploration and independence. Fifty years later, Olson-Jones and eight other alums met for a reunion and discussed the lasting impact that going on an OCS program had on their lives. One alum describes what a bonding experience it was and how even after so many years “when we connected last weekend we were all suffused with warmth and genuineness that was off the chart.” Beyond the relationships Carls built with other Carls, the Ivory Coast program gave participants the opportunity to build relationships with the communities they spent time with and, as Olson-Jones says, “gave all of us a much greater appreciation for other cultures and the understanding that we are citizens of the world.”

For Anne Valaas-Turner ‘99, the most significant part of her 1998 OCS program in Paris was how “my marvelously quirky host family enveloped me in love and adventure.” Valaas-Turner’s host family included her in a number of memorable family activities, including the filming of a family-made movie to a camping trip. Her relationship with her host family has extended years after the conclusion of the program with both their families keeping in touch and creating new memories.

Participating in an Off-Campus Studies program can have a lasting impact in a variety of ways. From valuable moments with host families, to independent research projects, to meeting your future spouse, as Wendy (Johnston) Laborie ’94 did during a trip to France. For Dov Stucker ’99, a 1996 program in Madagascar led to “a lifelong devotion to global citizenship, cross-cultural partnership, stewardship and justice.” As the Off-Campus Studies Office continues to grow and develop, we will remain a resource for the Carleton community to utilize so that students are able to have these life-changing and thought-provoking experiences.

Thank you to the alumni who shared their invaluable memories of their Carleton OCS experiences for our 50th anniversary. To discover more memories like those shared above, please explore the OCS 50th Anniversary – View The Memories page.