Although Registered Student Organization (RSO) trips are not official university activities, university policy establishes requirements for RSO travel abroad.
The same considerations apply to RSO trip leaders as those planning short-term programs abroad. Trip leaders should carefully consider all the requirements before and during planning group travel. We are available to consult with students planning such trips.
Should you lead a short-term program?
Leading a short-term program abroad can be very rewarding. However, experienced program leaders comment that leading a short-term program often requires more work than teaching a semester course on campus. The level of attention given by RSO Trip Leaders should be the same, if not more. We have outlined some of the increased responsibilities that first-time leaders should consider below.
- Time commitment before travel. RSO trip leaders are expected to devote considerable time coordinating all aspects of the program. This includes all aspects of logistics (travel, lodging, meals, activities), provide pre-departure orientations, make personal travel preparations, monitor other student preparations, and constantly communicate with various stakeholders, to include any national chapters or organizations.
- Time commitment during travel. While abroad, leaders perform many roles and accrue responsibilities that normally do not apply while on campus or as regular student. Leaders are expected to continually coordinate requirements, serve as an advocate for others, and be accessible to students at all hours and in unique circumstances.
- Regional knowledge. While regional knowledge or expertise is not required to successfully lead a short-term program abroad, it is extremely beneficial. Leaders should consider their comfort level traveling and interacting with different cultures, as well as their knowledge of the local culture and language. One method to mitigate this issue is incorporating additional chaperones or assistants with the requisite background; local providers can also be employed to guide programs but RSO trip leaders are still expected to exercise responsibilities on behalf of the university. National chapters or organizations may be able to link or provide access to additional support in the destination country.
Health, Safety, & Security Considerations
If you are ready to lead a RSO trip, consider the health, safety, and security factors that may impact your program. International travel will always entail a degree of risk. However, incorporating risk management strategies can reduce the likelihood of negative occurrences and/or mitigate the resulting impact. We encourage RSO trip leaders to incorporate risk management ideas in planning all aspects of short-term program abroad to develop the safest program possible.
Planning & Review
Now it is time to plan your program. Follow our guide for planning your program.