Members of Rice’s international community offer digital tours of their home countries.

Tours scheduled for the coming weeks include Costa Rica, China, Germany, and  Mongolia.

If you’re suffering from cabin fever or your summer travel plans have been sabotaged by COVID-19, no need to worry. Rice’s Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) has come up with a fun, new way to see the world from your favorite armchair.

Since late March, OISS has hosted biweekly “My World” (Virtual) Tours, which use Zoom to showcase countries represented in Rice’s international community. These have included Argentina, South Korea, Algeria, Russia, Lebanon and Brazil, among others.

The tours are organized and led by members of Rice’s international community of students, postdocs, research scholars, faculty and staff. Each tour runs for about 30 minutes and is followed by an interactive question-and-answer session.

“We wanted to highlight the amazing places that our international community come from,” said Adria Baker, Rice’s associate vice provost for international education and executive director of OISS. “We’re always teaching them about U.S. culture, and this is a time we can learn from theirs.”

Using PowerPoint slides and videos, the tour guides take viewers on informative, personal journeys through their countries. “It is the focus on the personal touch that makes these virtual tours special,” Baker said.

Paseo de La Reforma Avenue and Angel of Independence Monument in Mexico City, Mexico

Maria Corcuera, an international adviser with OISS, was a virtual tour guide to her home country of Mexico. During her tour, Corcuera took viewers to the scenic outdoors, showing off Mexico’s ecological diversity of jungles, volcanoes, beaches and mountains. She also took viewers to Mexico City, where she guided them around some of the city’s landmarks, including the Zócalo (main square), Catedral Metropolitana, Palacio Nacional and Ángel de la Independencia. She also discussed music, traditions, food, crafts and the history of the Mexican flag.

“I chose Mexico City because I wanted to share with the viewers the city where I grew up,” Corcuera said. “It was exciting to talk about my country and my culture. It made me happy to show them my favorite restaurants, the university I attended, my favorite museums and markets.”

Tours scheduled for the coming weeks include Mongolia, Germany, China and Costa Rica. The tours are offered via Zoom on Tuesdays and Fridays from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.

For more information and to join or host an upcoming tour go here.

“Tiny Acts of Kindness,” a project from Rice’s Office of Public Affairs, features stories about Rice Owls responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in kind, creative and effective ways. Read the Rice Magazine series here.

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