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Archive for the ‘Study Abroad’ Category

Less than a year ago when I was fresh out of college starting my job search, I was disheartened by the lack of emphasis employers put on my study abroad experience. More often than not, my five months in Europe were discounted as a holiday or “social experiment” as opposed an educational endeavor, the experience overlooked in favor of GPA and the rigor of my courses. In a culture where “study abroad” evokes visions of EuroTrip, how do we help employers realize that students with international experience have the intercultural skills they are looking for in the modern, globalized workplace?

A new report published by the British Council, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Ipsos Public Affairs attempts to better understand how intercultural skills are considered, assessed, and developed. The research confirms that intercultural skills are pertinent to today’s global workplace, but perhaps more interesting is how the data exposes the value and meaning each country attaches to those skills.

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At a meeting in Germany recently, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked by a former exchange program participant to comment on why fewer Americans seek an exchange experience in Europe than Europeans do in America. Secretary Kerry said, “That’s a really good question…. I need to find out.” He referred to the importance that the Administration attaches to scholarships for study abroad, and he said more scholarships are needed.

Watch the video of the event or read the transcript here.

Secretary Kerry is a strong supporter of international education. In 2001, then-Senator Kerry sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 7, calling for the establishment of an international education policy for the United States which would, among other things, strive to “significantly increase participation in study abroad and internships abroad,” and “promote greater diversity of locations, languages, and subjects” involved in study abroad. This resolution passed the Senate unanimously. It was the right policy then, and it’s the right policy now. Regrettably, the United States still has not articulated such a policy. So it’s important that Secretary Kerry know the answer to this question:  Why has this objective of his resolution (not to mention the other objectives) not been accomplished—or even attempted?

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This week marks the launch of the 2012 Student Diplomat Video Contest. Find more details at www.connectingourworld.org/studentdiplomat.

By Benjamin Hershey, 2011 Student Diplomat
Studying and traveling abroad can be a life-changing experience, just ask anyone who has been on a program overseas! My study abroad in the summer of 2011 took me to Germany to study adaptations to climate change through progressive city planning. My studies were anchored in Dresden, a modern model of exemplary city planning since its recovery from complete destruction during World War II.

While in Germany, I learned a great deal about the local culture, as well as about German city planning. The people I met while abroad were incredibly hospitable and helped me to become accustomed to my new environment. I believe that interacting with locals is the best way to gain a proper understanding of cultural differences while fostering lifelong friendships at the same time. The people I met during my program were without a doubt the best part of my experience, and they taught me amazing things about the city of Dresden.

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The following appeared in the September/October issue of International Educator magazine.

IE Sep/Oct 2012The United Kingdom has long been well-known for its excellence in higher education. The universities of Cambridge and Oxford are world-class institutions that many nations, including the United States, have tried to emulate. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery—in terms of higher education in the United Kingdom, times are changing. Recent years have brought many changes to the higher education sector in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Increasing tuition for both domestic and international students has been on the rise. This is quite a shift for UK students—in the past, pursuing a university education was largely subsidized by the government. With the increase of fees for international students, the UK sees more funding per student, which can help defray budget cuts that have been instituted due to the global economic downturn, but it can deter international students from coming to the UK due to the higher cost.

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We continue our blog series documenting the reflections of the inaugural cohort of the Connecting Our World Grassroots Leadership Program (GLP) today with a post from Ashley Sinclair, who runs a one-person study abroad office at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Ashley took the phrase “don’t recreate the wheel” to heart as she dedicated herself to building on and innovatively expanding resources already available to her in order to better prepare her students to study abroad.


By Ashley Sinclair
As a one-person study abroad office, life can easily get overwhelming. I want to provide my students with the best services, programs, orientations, and more, but time and resources are not always on my side. While I love my job, in large part because I love meeting the challenges that this kind of office can bring, I have to admit that sometimes I feel a twinge of envy at conferences when I speak with colleagues from other larger universities who have more staff and more time to prepare individual orientations for specific countries or majors. What can I do to better prepare our students to go abroad with no extra staff or resources? This question was the driving force behind my year in the Connecting Our World Grassroots Leadership Program (GLP).

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The following appeared in the In Focus column from the July/August 2012 issue of International Educator.

International Educator InFocusBy Mark S. Lenhart
I started my life in study abroad as a CET Beijing student during the 1987–1988 academic year. I was determined to learn Chinese, but thanks to a grant from the Bowdoin College Visual Arts Department, I also had the opportunity to take and develop photographs. I took hundreds of photos, and a classmate and I produced an exhibit called “Unbuilding Walls” when we returned to campus the next year. One of the pictures from that show is this photo of three Chinese girls with hopeful faces.

I learned so much that year, but one thing I’ve carried with me ever since is that photography can break down barriers between the photographer and the subject. “May I take your picture?” can become a way to start a conversation, a reason to speak and learn from total strangers. My images often reflected this; instead of simply recording the subjects, they captured the moments of exchange. In the end, my camera not only taught me how to see China, but it also connected me to my hosts in wonderful, unexpected ways.

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We continue our blog series documenting the reflections of the inaugural cohort of the Connecting Our World Grassroots Leadership Program (GLP) today with a post from Jennifer Ellis Fritz, a study abroad advisor for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students at Bucknell University. In her post, Jennifer offers insight into how her presentation at the 2012 NAFSA Annual Conference in Houston reenergized her to continue advocacy work throughout her career as an international educator.


Jennifer FritzBy Jennifer Ellis Fritz
I was nervous when I walked towards room 351 BC of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston to present at the session, “Advocacy Snapshots: From Idea to Action.” Although I had presented at two regional conferences recently, I was still a bit apprehensive. Then I stepped in front of the room, looked at the audience and saw fellow advocates. I also saw friends…friends I had never met, that were all there for the same fundamental reason I was…to advocate.

Merriam-Webster defines an “advocate” as: one that pleads the cause of another; one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal; or one that supports or promotes the interests of another.

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