The GoAbroad office has been a-buzz for International Education Week 2016! We are pumped to see our friends and network sharing in our (moderately excessive) enthusiasm, from profile photo updates to participating in broader discussions about the purposes and fruits of more globalized educational pursuits.
But, beyond the joy of relishing in the nation-wide support for a cause we all deeply believe in (Thanks Obama!), we didn’t want it to simply be another week of clinking glasses to the good ol’ days abroad. We want to use the week as a reason to pause and reflect on the work we do and why it matters! Or if it even matters? Is study abroad a necessity or luxury? What value do we actually add to the field?
Truly honest conversations on the latter sensitive subject matter can be a challenge to breach. But even so, we were able to come together as an office and sincerely discern our role in this great, big cog of international education.
SO...WHAT IS IT THAT WE DO?
We help get the word out about meaningful travel programs. We publish authoritative and helpful articles to give students ample resources to make their travels as intentional and productive as possible. We contribute to transparency in the field, by offering a platform for reviews as well as interviews, which ultimately challenges the field, as a whole, to continue improving. We innovate travel tools to make everyone’s processes a little easier. We are the experts in the overlap between meaningful travel and technology, and aim to alleviate the potential undue stress of marketing initiatives. Our colleagues in the field can focus on making their programs as effective as possible, and leave a good deal of initial recruiting up to us!
THAT IS THE “WHAT.” BUT WHAT ABOUT THE “WHY?”
We grabbed pens and paper (yes, we can appreciate kickin’ it old school!) and asked ourselves a number of hard-hitting, personal questions. Here’s what the U.S. GoAbroad team had to say about our work in international education:
Why do you <3 working in #studyabroad or #intled?
“I love seeing students open themselves up to new experiences and new ways of seeing the world. “ - Erin Oppenheim
“I thrive being a part of a like-minded cohort of international education superheroes with a contagious passion to spread cross-cultural understanding. The end-goal of making the world friendlier, more tolerant, and better informed is what brings us together.” - Dawn Noyes
“I'm glad that I now have the opportunity to tell students how to overcome the barriers that I and so many other students face, including, but not limited to, finances, community college, and academic credit restrictions. I'm also able to testify to the fact that international education can be achieved through alternative programs as well, not just study abroad. “ - Kayla Patterson
What does working in international education mean to you? Is international education important? Why or why not?
“International education is important because global issues are increasingly complicated, it's unlikely that one or two countries can solve them alone. It will take cooperation amongst people from all over the world, and that only comes from understanding and trust. Study abroad is key to both these things.” - Nikki Powers
“International education is vital to bringing positive change and cultural sensitivity to local and global communities through experience and self-awareness.” - Dawn Noyes
“International education adds context, depth, and meaning to extensive classroom learning. It simultaneously questions students’ perceived norms while strengthening their sense of self, ultimately cultivating more compassionate, passionate leaders and global citizens.” - Megan Lee
“Global citizen?” What does that even mean? Is it a buzzword?
“Being a global citizen is feeling pain when there is death, destruction, and devastation in other parts of the world, and supporting other countries in their time of need.” - Rachael Van Der Werff
“It means a lot of things, but to me it means having people I call friends all around the world.” - Tonya Tooley
“Being a global citizen is all about human connection and cultural understanding.” - Erin Oppenheim
Study abroad: necessity or a privilege?
“There are many lessons from study abroad that are a necessity. Culture shock, challenged comfort zones, sheer humility, realizing a shared human experience with strangers, entering communities where you are foreign, grasping the direct impact your actions have on the planet and people in it. That being said, study abroad itself is a tool to accomplish these goals, and not the only way to do it. Study abroad remains a privilege, but its lessons are a necessity.” - Megan Lee
“Study abroad is still a privilege. There are still many people around the world and in our own country who cannot afford to even go to college, or who have to drop out because of finances. These populations are not able to consider studying abroad as a vital experience, because their concerns are much different.” - Nikki Powers
“Study abroad is necessary for cultivating a cohesive, more compassionate world made up of perceptive, empathetic leaders. Though it currently remains a privilege, its accessibility is a necessity. It should be supported, encouraged, and reachable to every student and young adult.” - Dawn Noyes
DID YOU GET GOOSEBUMPS TOO?
Our conversation brought forth such interesting dialogue that we couldn’t keep it to ourselves, so we posed these same ideas to our #GoAbroadChat community (catch the play-by-play on Storify). What unfolded was a beautiful, interesting conversation where words like “purpose,” “belief,” and “value” were frequently used.
Here are some highlights:
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION WEEK, FOLKS!
From your friends at GoAbroad.com, where we strive to make every week international education week!