Over coffee in Havana, a young Cuban professional asked me, “What are your intentions in Cuba? Why are U.S. universities interested in creating partnerships with Cuban universities?” While these questions initially caught me off guard, they helped me reflect on the current realities of U.S.-Cuba partnerships and what the near future might hold for these relationships.
There is consensus that international experience is an important component of a 21st century education.
The good news: In addition to the increasing number of American students participating in for-credit study abroad, more and more students are also actively pursuing international experiential learning through a variety of non-credit education abroad (NCEA) activities.
The not so good news: Despite NCEA becoming a mainstream option for students to incorporate both an immersive international and practical educational experience into their formal studies, and the importance that accurate and comprehensive NCEA data have in informing higher education institutions’ internationalization missions; NCEA has so far been vastly underreported and not fully understood.
Over the past two weeks, the Institute has been asked to make a series of presentations on how higher education can respond to the current refugee crisis. Sarah Willcox, Director of IIE's Scholar Rescue Fund and I spoke at The Rockefeller University, Nikki Davis, Program Manager of IIE Initiatives, chaired a panel during a UN high-level event on "Teaming Up to Boost Higher Education Opportunities in Emergencies,” the Best Practices Conference hosted this year by the University of California at Davis convened a pre-conference workshop on “Project No More Lost Generation: Principles of Higher Education Support,” and James King, Assistant Director of the Scholar Rescue Fund, represented IIE in Helsinki at a conference on opportunities for Finnish higher education institutions to become involved in the IIE-Scholar Rescue Fund to support Syrian scholars.
This year's Asia Pacific Association for International Education (APAIE) Conference was the biggest ever with 1,600 attendees. And although Australia was a long way even for some of us in the rest of Asia, universities, NGOs and international education experts from across the globe gathered to find common cause and mull over the issues facing our sector.
Earlier this month, Universities UK held their International Unit's annual summit. We work closely with this organization, which will become a Generation Study Abroad commitment partner, and their newsletter is an excellent window into the issues, concerns, and developments shaping the international exchange field in Europe. For several years Universities UK has asked me to speak at one of the sessions, but I was unable to do so. As it turns out, that was fortunate. Elections are big in the UK this year.
Mihret is from a semi-rural area of Ethiopia where she passed her 10th and 12th grade national exams successfully. She is now studying at Adama University, pursuing her dream to be a doctor. In her own words: “In 7 years’ time, I will be a doctor and work in a hospital and save lives. I also plan to go abroad for a graduate degree and visit my country to help orphan children.” Mihret is one of a 100 girls in Ethiopia that IIE is helping stay on a pathway to success through the Higher Education Readiness (HER) program. HER is just one example of the Institute’s targeted approach to increasing female access to education and developing leadership skills. Last year alone, IIE-managed programs directly impacted the lives of 20,000 women and girls all over the world.
Nearly four years before he would deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC, civil rights vanguard Martin Luther King, Jr. visited India, the home of Mahatma Gandhi. He wrote, “I left India more convinced than ever before that nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.” Contemporary civil rights are one of the countless solutions that were borne out the exchange of ideas and people beyond national borders. We live in a globalized society where countries and economies are more interconnected than ever before—it’s critical that all students, no matter their race, ethnicity or economic background, have the opportunity to participate. When U.S. students study abroad, they not only learn about the world, but they also serve as ambassadors for the United States and all the unique diversity of ideas and solutions.