By Wagaye Johannes at IIE
The world is increasingly interconnected, and just about every societal challenge from counterterrorism to climate change involves international diplomacy, economics and collaboration. China is already the world’s largest exporter and manufacturer, but in less than 15 years, it will also be home to the world’s largest economy, according to The World Bank. It’s estimated that more than half of the world’s population speaks more than one language. Regardless of whether we realize or embrace it, we are all global citizens.
What is the college student in your life doing to prepare for the global demands of the workforce and life in general?
Consider this: today’s American graduates compete for global jobs with graduates from around the world who are 5 times as likely to be bilingual and possess strong cross-cultural skills. The next generation of professionals in every field will need to engage in meaningful international experiences to prepare for the demands of our globalized world.
For American college students, one of the best – and sometimes the only way – to gain advanced language and cross-cultural skills, and a global network of peers is to study abroad in college. Yet, only about one in ten American students study overseas by the time they graduate from college, according to the Open Doors® report. And the college students who are studying abroad don’t reflect the diversity of America’s higher education student body at large.
Out of the 6.6 million minority students enrolled in college, fewer than 80,000 students who did study abroad in the 2013/14 academic year self-identified as African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian/ Alaska Native or Pacific Islander. Less than 4,000 students with disabilities studied abroad during the same year.
Students who hear about study abroad through word of mouth from influential people like mentors, peers, faculty and relatives are more likely to study abroad.
It’s a quick way to reach out to students: all you have to do is visit GoOverseas.com/GenerationStudyAbroad and enter the name and email address of a student(s) who you think would benefit from studying abroad.
Three Ways You Can Inspire the Student in Your Life to Study Abroad
- Expand her or his perception of studying abroad (and paying for it) by sharing your own stories from when your college study or travel abroad experience. Seeing is believing. Take some time to find and share photos and videos of your global educational activities, especially if they happened while you were in college. Be open and honest about the experience and, most importantly, follow up with your student. If you didn’t study abroad, consider connecting the student with a friend who did.
- Nominate a student you know to enter to win a $10,000 scholarship to study abroad. In addition to perceptions of study abroad, costs continue to be a major barrier to studying abroad. While a chance to win a scholarship won’t get all students to study abroad, it doesn’t cost anything to give it a shot. Plus, you will have started an important conversation about thinking and acting as a global citizen.
- Spread the Word about #GoStudyAbroad on Social Media. Write your own social media content in support of the #GoStudyAbroad campaign or share IIEGlobal’s #GoStudyAbroad Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts. You can download and share social media cards and banners at: https://www.iiemediaport.org/c/ycxeqyjw. You can even create an original image with a photo of yourself by using the “customizable Transparent PNG” file. Here are some sample tweets to get started:
- I nominate @handleofnominee to #GoStudyAbroad! Enter here for the chance to win a $10K scholarship: GoOverseas.com/GenerationStudyAbroad
- Want to win a scholarship so that you can #GoStudyAbroad? Enter to win a #GenerationStudyAbroad scholarship: GoOverseas.com/GenerationStudyAbroad
- Looking for funding to #GoStudyAbroad? This is your chance! Enter to win a #GenerationStudyAbroad scholarship today: GoOverseas.com/GenerationStudyAbroad
- Where would you #GoStudyAbroad if money wasn’t an obstacle? Enter now to win a $10K scholarship: GoOverseas.com/GenerationStudyAbroad
The next generation of leaders will shape global trade and foreign policies that will affect virtually everyone. It’s important to make sure everyone is prepared to contribute to our globalized society – they can start by planning to go study abroad.
Wagaye Johannes is the Project Director for the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative. She has 15 years of experience in global program management.