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.
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.
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.
There is a lot going on in New Hampshire these days.
The University of New Hampshire joined us as a Generation Study Abroad partner, aiming to increase from about 750 students currently studying abroad to 1,500. This is part of the UNH Global 2020 strategy aiming to make international learning and experience central to education.
#humility. #empathy. Two quiet yet powerful words that I heard frequently at the inaugural IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad that took place in Washington, DC, last week.
International experience used to be a “nice-to-have” criterion in a graduate’s resume. Today, it has become one of the most important components of a 21st century education. Many new studies show a direct impact of study abroad on creativity, cognitive ability, and student success. In addition, studies show that study abroad plays an important role in developing a global mindset and skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. Below are studies showing the value employers place on international experience and whether a graduate’s career prospects actually improve as a result of this experience.
K-12 teachers and administrators can have a huge impact on the direction of their students’ lives. I can trace my own personal interest in the global world back to my elementary school principal who championed an exchange program between our school district and a school district in France. Thanks to him, I was introduced to the French language and culture at a young age, and that introduction sparked a fascination with other countries that has lasted in me to this day.
Roughly 15 months after IIE launched the Generation Study Abroad® initiative, it’s time to take stock. Are we making progress? Can we achieve our goal of doubling study abroad by the end of the decade? We have built an impressive coalition of educators, parents, students, alumni, and funders who are pledging specific, actionable goals and tangible financial commitments that will contribute significantly to reach our ambitious goal.
Anyone concerned with promoting wider participation in study abroad by students with disabilities, or anyone who just needs some encouragement to keep facing hard challenges head-on, should rush to read Susan Sygall's terrific personal memoir, No Ordinary Days: A Journey of Activism, Globe-Trotting, and Unexpected Pleasures. The co-founder of Mobility International USA (MIUSA), Susan and her organization already have made available a wide range of resources online at Mobility International USA and in print and offer workshops and conference panels to help all of us do a better job of expanding access to study abroad. But having just downloaded and sped through her new book, I was inspired all over again by her words, and her life story.
By my count, representatives from more than 400 organizations and universities from around the world helped to fill the NAFSA conference expo space to capacity. There were many good messages about welcoming U.S. students and innovative study abroad and internship programs. Many made a special effort to point out just how many courses and programs are now taught entirely in English. That is good news, and bad.