Global Spotlight: David Weber Shares the Impact of His International Experiences

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th 2015 at 6:14 AM

Some people feel the need to travel and explore the world after living in the same place for most of their lives. For others, they may need to discover firsthand the opportunities available to them before getting excited about travel. Dr. David Weber, lecturer of CIS, traveled a lot with his family within the United States before going overseas for a study abroad program in Oxford, England during his undergrad years.

“I came back from that and I thought, ‘That was an interesting experience, but America has everything I need; I don’t really have a desire to go overseas again,’” he said.

That all changed though when a friend from college sent him information about job openings where the friend worked at Woodstock School, an international boarding school in Mussoorie, India.

“I was infatuated with the idea of this grand adventure of moving to India and my wife got as excited as I did about it so we spent a year there,” he said. “It was eye-opening for us because all of the other faculty and staff at that school were from all over the world.”

They learned about many different cultures there from the friendships that were made and they also got to travel to other countries during school breaks. Through these explorations, they discovered their love of Southeast Asia. Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Vietnam each offered them new encounters with unique cultures, cuisine, and people. [Photo, right: Riding an ostrich in Chiang Rai, Thailand]

Before returning to the U.S. to work on his Ph.D. at Arizona State University (ASU), Weber and his wife spent three months in Thailand volunteering with Nightlight International, an organization that helps victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation get back on their feet.

While finishing school, Weber still wanted to keep traveling. He ended up being offered the opportunity to lead a study abroad program for ASU business students to Prague, Czech Republic for three summers. There, he also traveled to other countries in Europe on the weekend.

“The chance to take students abroad was great, and I realized that, when I went into academia, that was something I wanted to be able to do,” he said.  

He had caught the travel bug and wasn't quite ready to settle down and teach right after receiving his doctorate. He went back to Thailand with his wife to work with Nightlight International again, spending two years there this time.

“ [The first time] we lived in a temporary placeand we still felt like tourists,” he said. “But during the two years we spent there, we studied Thai for a year, to the point where we could both speak it and hold conversations with Thai people and talk with the women who Nightlight International were helping and that really was a great experience. There’s a big difference between being a tourist in a country and being a resident of a country.”

He took his current position as a professor at NAU in 2014 and hopes to continue travelling. He’s working on a proposal for a summer study abroad program for students at the FCB to go to Bangkok and Singapore. This summer, he’ll be doing a test run, visiting the countries to determine where he could take students for company visits and where classroom space will be available. If approved, the program could begin as early as the summer of 2016.

“Because I was so impacted by my international experiences, I really encourage students to pursue that,” he said.

Biking through Tam Coc in Vietnam

Posing with actors in Khmai costumes, Bayon Temple, Siam Reap, Cambodia

Dining with our Thai teacher in her home village, Isaan Province, Thailand

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, Germany

Categories: global spotlight global faculty spotlight david weber spring 2015 2015 faculty