New State Department and Airbnb Study Abroad Partnership

NEW YORK, January 31, 2017—With support from a new partnership with Airbnb, the U.S. Department of State sent additional U.S. undergraduate students to China this academic year to pursue studies.  The selected students received scholarships through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which enables undergraduates of limited financial means to study or intern abroad.

Thanks to this unique partnership, the selected students have been able to gain new perspectives and skills, including how to adapt to different environments, work with a diverse team of peers, and communicate with speakers of other languages – tools that will enable them to thrive in the global economy. As Monique Go, an Airbnb sponsored Gilman Scholar from Pepperdine University acknowledges, “One word that can perfectly sum up my experience in China is ‘growth.’ Studying abroad has shaped my understanding of the world, and has been a wonderfully challenging experience in many ways.” Maia Moore shared her experiences in China through the Valparaiso University’s blog, including personal reflection, “It’s odd that I’m discovering more about my identity in China of all places, but study abroad involves a lot of self-discovery.”

The partnership between the State Department and Airbnb was announced in June 2016 at the seventh annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange in Beijing, and was celebrated at a reception in Washington, D.C. in September, co-hosted by then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.

At the reception in September, Chesky commented that “…We think of any traveler on Airbnb crossing a country as a potential cultural ambassador. And so, I think that’s what brings us here today. Not everyone can afford to study abroad or travel, and I think there’s so much to be learned from travel. There’s an old saying: A great trip can set you down a path that does not end in the return…This is what’s fired us to support the Gilman Scholarship…It helps someone who might not otherwise afford it experience a country for the first time.”

This year, the Gilman International Scholarship Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by the Institute of International Education, will award approximately 2,900 scholarships of up to $8,000 each for U.S. undergraduate students to study or intern abroad. The Gilman Program was launched in 2001, and is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and interning abroad.  Gilman Scholars serve as U.S. citizen ambassadors building relationships between the people of the United States and their host country. The program has been successful in supporting students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad, including but not limited to, first-generation college students, students in STEM fields, ethnic minority students, students with disabilities, and students attending Minority-Serving Institutions and community colleges. Since its inception, the Gilman Program has awarded over 22,000 scholarships to students from more than 1,100 U.S. institutions for study in over 140 countries around the world.

View remarks from State Department and Airbnb’s announcement from the reception. 

Airbnb sponsored Gilman Scholars in China during the 2016-2017 academic year include: 

Name: Walter Beckerleg 

U.S. Institution: Northern Michigan University

U.S. Hometown: Puerto Rico 

Chinese host Institution and host city: Peking University, in Beijing 

Name: Anthony Constantini 

U.S. Institution: Arizona State University 

U.S. Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona 

Chinese host Institution and host city: Beijing Union University, in Beijing

Name: Monique Go 

U.S. Institution: Pepperdine University 

U.S. Hometown: Green Hills, California 

Chinese host Institution and host city: Fudan University, in Shanghai

Name: Kevin Liu 

U.S. Institution: State University of New York, New Paltz 

U.S. Hometown: New York City, New York 

Chinese host Institution and host city: Nanjing University, in Nanjing 

Name: Maia Moore 

U.S. Institution: Valparaiso University 

U.S. Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 

Chinese host Institution and host city: Yuquan Campus of Zhejiang University, in Hangzhou

Name: Eric Patterson 

U.S. Institution: University of South Carolina, Columbia 

U.S. Hometown: Aiken, South Carolina 

Chinese host Institution and host city: East China Normal University, in Shanghai

Name: Patrick Powers 

U.S. Institution: University of California, Riverside 

U.S. Hometown: Greenwich, Connecticut 

Chinese host Institution and host city: Beijing Normal University and Peking University, in Beijing

Name: Abraham Toure 

U.S. Institution: West Virginia University 

U.S. Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Chinese host Institution and host city: Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, in Shanghai

Name: Connie Truong 

U.S. Institution: College of the Holy Cross 

U.S. Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts 

Chinese host Institution and host city: Capital Normal University and Donghua University, in Beijing


About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the leader in providing international education strategies and program services. Our international approach to education—diverse, borderless, impactful—is a proven way for governments and companies to invest in global talent and solidify overseas relationships. We work with policymakers, educators and employers across the globe to prepare students and professionals for the global workforce and equip them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,300 member institutions.

About the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State sponsors a wide range of academic, professional, and cultural exchanges that include approximately 40,000 participants annually, including the Fulbright Program and the International Visitor Leadership Program, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. ECA promotes the increase and diversification of U.S. and international student mobility through its programs, outreach on U.S. study abroad, and management of the EducationUSA network of advising offices, which provides information to students around the world who wish to study in the United States. 


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