Randi Butler on
Friday, April 17, 2015
Studying abroad was never something I planned on doing. I knew such a thing existed, but to me it existed in a realm of things I didn’t perceive as meant for me. I was a first generation college student and even attending college didn’t seem like something someone like me would do; it was for other kids. I nearly dropped out several times. After two years of near-daily encouragement from my favorite professor, I finally began to consider study abroad as something meant for me, too.
Recently over 3,000 people gathered to roam the cyber halls of the inaugural Virtual Study Abroad Fair hosted by the U.S. Department of State, College Week Live, and the Institute of International Education. This online event got me thinking about whether or not technology actually can make it easier for different people around the globe to truly connect, share resources, and exchange ideas. There are those of us who would complain about the depersonalization caused by social media and the divide that digital media creates between individuals and real life experiences. And I have, on occasion, wondered if my constant internet use, emails, and social media posts have put distance between myself and everyone else in the world.
How do you engage secondary school students in a dialogue around the world?
We asked ourselves this question a year ago, and our search for the answer has led to an exciting new virtual exchange initiative called My Town. The initiative engages thousands students from around the world in interactive, competitive projects, that encourage students to explore aspects of their own towns and cities while learning about towns and cities of their peers.
Senator J. William Fulbright was a Rhodes Scholar, and the experience gave him the idea that more Americans ought to have the opportunity to study abroad. We know where that led, of course.
In July 2011, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced the creation of a new scholarship program known as Ciência sem Fronteiras, a multiyear initiative to send 75,000 fully funded Brazilian students abroad for training in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, with an additional 25,000 scholarships to be funded by the private sector. IIE partners with the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Ministry of Education’s Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) to administer the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP) in the United States, which includes U.S. undergraduate, graduate, and intensive English programs.
“What does one wear to the White House?” was one tweet I read as I prepared for a truly unique DC event. On Tuesday, December 9, I joined 100 of our country’s most influential travel bloggers—from big players like Yahoo Travel to start-ups like Adventure Girl—for the White House Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. For IIE and our colleague organizations, the topic is so close to our hearts: how do we encourage young Americans to study, volunteer, and work abroad?
This year's CIEE annual conference addressed the "three Cs" that are making it hard for our students to study abroad: Cost, Curriculum, and Culture. It was my privilege to speak at the luncheon, which was then devoted to working groups to come up with ideas on how to reduce obstacles in each area. Many good ideas were reported and will be shared as part of CIEE’s commitment to IIE's Generation Study Abroad initiative, which also included a generous package of $20 million in scholarships and actions designed to help students throughout the United States to take advantage of international opportunities.
If you read the education news during the past two weeks, it was nearly impossible to miss the headlines: international students are coming to the United States in greater numbers, and they are going to more U.S. universities in more U.S. states. More than 1,000 news reports across the country and around the world announced the latest statistics and trends, illustrating the growing impact these students have on the U.S. economy and communities, on the institutions that host them and the American students with whom they live and learn, and on their home countries.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
IIE joins with AACRAO, NACAC, and NAFSA in sharing with our members the following guidance, as each institution implements policies and practices related to Ebola and other global public health concerns. We welcome your feedback on how these issues are being handled locally and your recommendations for future action.
"All men are brothers." The sentence came back to me here in the middle of a dinner hosted by the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange for about 100 Fulbright U.S. English Teaching Assistants soon heading home. The words are from a novel published in China in 1589, Tale of the Water Margin, about what one learns through struggles in a world almost constantly at war. The sentence was later used by Gandhi as part of the title for his book of autobiographical reflections on how many people with many differences could live together if they thought about the aspirations that bound them together.