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Archive for the ‘Study Abroad’ Category

By María José Angel Mex

As an early Christmas present last year, I was appointed by NAFSA as a consular affairs liaison to the Italian consulate in Houston, Texas. At the time, I had an idea of what my responsibilities would be, but I knew I still had a lot to learn. This proved to be true earlier this year when I attended NAFSA’s consular affairs liaison (CAL) training in Washington D.C, along with the 40 other members of the  CAL Subcommittee.

You might be wondering what exactly CALs do. To put it briefly, we try to help. CALs belong to country groups (France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the “World-at-Large”;) and represent the education abroad (EA) community to one of the consulates of those countries in the United States. We gather as much information as possible from our consulate and share it with the EA community, primarily through the Visas for Education Abroad section of http://www.nafsa.org.

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With new tools providing greater understanding of the motives for student mobility and what drives students to seek out educational experiences abroad, international education professionals now have the unique opportunity to better anticipate where the next educational destination will be.

To help uncover what 2015 holds for the student travel market, NAFSA invited Atle Skalleberg, CEO of StudentUniverse, a technology company that empowers students and youth to travel, to share his company’s insight on what their data is telling them about trends to expect in the coming months.


What growth do you expect in the student travel market in 2015? What will be the largest driver fueling the growth?

Student travelers are critical stakeholders in the tourism industry and are sometimes overlooked as airlines focus on current business travelers. In reality, students make up 20 percent of all arrivals in the travel industry today. By 2020, more than 300 million student-related arrivals are expected, a number that will represent a quarter of total tourism. By the same time, 50 percent of all business travelers are expected to be millennials.

One of the key drivers fueling the growth of student travel is international specialty travel. Education travel leads the pack, and we see new markets coming online as well as continued growth from emerging markets such as China and Brazil. These students also travel a substantial amount within their destination country.

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Julie FriendBy Julie Anne Friend

First, a disclaimer – I’m a lawyer, not a doctor, so the purpose of this blog post is not to provide medical advice, but to reference verifiable medical information and how it can be used to support your risk management strategies, as well as communication efforts, in managing a real or perceived health crisis.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever and I go way back. We first met in 1995 while I was a graduate student in Lusaka, Zambia. There was an outbreak of Ebola along our northern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire). Three hundred and fifteen people died in a village called Kikwit. It was big news, but I can’t really recall how. There were no cell phones, no Internet, and certainly no Twitter. E-mail existed, but access was sporadic and cumbersome. I think I learned everything I needed to know from CNN. I don’t remember being alarmed or afraid. I was right there – well, nearby – and I was not at all afraid.

That remained true for me even during the latest outbreak, which reached our shores but only in the most negligible way. And by negligible, I don’t mean to make light of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan or the transmission of the virus to four others, all of whom remain alive (the five others treated in the United States contracted the disease abroad, for a total of 10 cases). But compared to the tragedy playing out in West Africa – 5,165 dead with a fatality rate of 53-85 percent (depending on the source) – a more compassionate and less fearful reaction would’ve made more sense, particularly on campus.

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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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