Alexandra Lowe Lees on
Monday, October 20, 2014
On Monday, September 22, 2014, His Majesty the King of Spain began his first official visit to the United States since his proclamation to the throne in June. We were honored and thrilled King Felipe selected the Institute of International Education (IIE) to be his first U.S. public appearance to speak with a select audience, including many U.S. and Spanish students and alumni from the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Program. The event focused on academic exchange and collaboration between Spain and the United States and the critical role of international education in addressing world challenges.
Three weeks before IIE's fall Generation Study Abroad commitment deadline, I packed a suitcase full of newly released IIENetworker magazines and flew back to Oregon, my home state. My destination was Idealist.org headquarters in Portland, where PDX Abroad had gathered 26 higher education professionals from Oregon and Washington to hold a Generation Study Abroad Think Tank. The event, which was modeled after IIE's March 2014 roundtable discussion titled "What Will it Take To Double Study Abroad?" was the first such event organized spontaneously.
In the middle of June, when the team at the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund realized we were facing a third Iraq emergency—as well as requests for help from scholars in many other parts of the world—Senator Leahy of Vermont reminded us why we do this work. He told the story of a man walking along a beach where many starfish had washed ashore. The man was picking them up one by one and tossing them back into the ocean. A passerby noted that there were many hundreds and that the effort was pretty much futile. “Not to the one I just managed to throw back,” replied the man.
In an op-ed in the New York Times about the ‘world’s coolest places,’ columnist Nick Kristof writes that "travel can also be an education, a step toward empathy and international understanding." At IIE, we couldn't agree more. In fact, this was one of the most important factors that led to the establishment of IIE in 1919.
The answer to this question, according to the authors of IIE’s spring 2014 edition of IIENetworker is, “it depends.” While we tend to think of internationalization and globalization as harmonious, even synonymous, this issue of IIE’s biannual magazine makes important distinctions between the two and points out the benefits—along with potential drawbacks—of rapid globalization.
So how might globalization be bad for international education?
The day after Crimea broke away from Ukraine, our director in Kyiv shared a message from a grantee and the picture below. The message read: "Today I feel like my home was taken. away from me. Miss you Yalta, Crimea, Ukraine."
When I read the words and saw the seascape, I thought about the two countries I had "lost" in another career: South Vietnam and Iran.
The Rhodes Trust is piloting a new Falcon Scholarship program for students from parts of the world that have not been part of the British Commonwealth to do graduate study at Oxford. It was my honor to chair a Selection Committee for Rhodes for the finalists attending universities in the UAE. As would be true in America, the candidates actually come from many different countries. And most of them are from the parts of the world that generate headlines associated with conflict.
"Every student who wants to succeed in the global economy should study abroad." That is the first sentence of IIE's new book, A Student Guide to Study Abroad, which was published by IIE in collaboration with the AIFS Foundation, and is packed with essential tips and information for students looking to study abroad.
Last month I met with Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, the new Minister of Education and Research in Norway, who was in Washington, DC, for the annual Transatlantic Science Week organized by the Royal Norwegian Embassy. We spoke about higher education internationalization in Norway and the priorities for academic collaboration with the United States. Mr. Røe Isaksen, who holds a MA in Political Science from the University of Oslo, also spent one year in the United States as a student at Carl Junction High School in Missouri.
The fourth annual EducationUSA Forum is now behind us, and by all accounts, this year was the most successful ever. (Disclaimer: IIE helps State Department to organize the event.) Approximately, 600 people from the US higher education community and educational advising came together for the three day event in Washington DC to learn about how best to promote international education and attract a diverse group of international students to their campuses. The Forum has quickly become a major event on the international education circuit, especially for those working in the international recruitment and admissions field. Much was discussed at the Forum, ranging from regional updates, to consular issues, scholarship programs, countries to watch and much more.