A two-week summer abroad trip to the South Pacific took a group of 33 students and staff to Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, countries known worldwide for their accessibility to those with disabilities, according to Bryon Kluesner, M.S., Ph.D., Adaptive Technology Coordinator, Office for Students with Disabilities.

“The student participants learned quickly that cultural accessibility is often more valuable than physical accessibility itself. The people of Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia were not only accepting of the students with disabilities, but embracing of them and made us all feel like we belonged in their community and family,” said Kluesner.

Upon the group’s return, work began on a full length documentary which addresses international travel for people with disabilities.   View a sample of the documentary at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bD3LqQ6m_28

Kluesner invites those who would like to learn more about the group’s adventure to call the UTC Office for Students with Disabilities at (423)425-4006.

students Amanda Jones and Gemma Appeldoorn with extreme jet boat operator.

The Agrodome in Rotorua, New Zealand. From left: students Amanda Jones and Gemma Appeldoorn with extreme jet boat operator.

Student Gemma Appeldoorn and Dr. Nancy Badger from the UTC Counseling and Career Planning Center and the extreme jet ski operator at the Agrodome in New Zealand.

Student Gemma Appeldoorn and Dr. Nancy Badger from the UTC Counseling and Career Planning Center and the extreme jet ski operator at the Agrodome in New Zealand.

At the marquee of the resort in Fiji. From left are students Ellis Leago and April Jones, as well as Dr. Nancy Badger, and student Gemma Appeldoorn.

At the marquee of the resort in Fiji. From left are students Ellis Leago and April Jones, as well as Dr. Nancy Badger, and student Gemma Appeldoorn.

In Rotorua, New Zealand, students participate in a native Poi ceremony.  Center and right are students Allison Messier and Amanda Jones.

In Rotorua, New Zealand, students participate in a native Poi ceremony. Center and right are students Allison Messier and Amanda Jones.

Gemma Appeldoorn, Michelle Rigler from oSD, students Jean-Marie Lawrence, Tracey Wegener. 3rd row from bottom are students Amy Rutherford, Ellis Leago, Holly Zuckerman, Heather Chang, Dr. nancy Badger, students April Jones, UTC alumni Jill Clark, student Eamon Hosey, Chaperone Matt Harms. Back row students Robert Atnip, Cati Wilhite, Dr. Bryon Kluesner from OSD, (hidden behind sign) student Clint Ododm, students Daniel Armstrong and Jonathan Riner.

A Whaka Thermal Village in New Zealand. From left, 1st row: Lacey Bishop, Brittany Wheat, Allsion Messier, Katherine Hall, Jackie Churchill, Leslie Harms. 2nd row: Gemma Appeldoorn, Michelle Rigler from OSD, students Jean-Marie Lawrence, Tracey Wegener. 3rd row from bottom are students Amy Rutherford, Ellis Leago, Holly Zuckerman, Heather Chang, Dr. Nancy Badger, students April Jones, UTC alumna Jill Clark, student Eamon Hosey, Chaperone Matt Harms. Back row students Robert Atnip, Cati Wilhite, Dr. Bryon Kluesner from OSD, (hidden behind sign) student Clint Ododm, students Daniel Armstrong and Jonathan Riner.

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