Promoting International Education across the Country

clip_image002Today marks the final day of the 14th annual International Education Week (IEW), an initiative that is now celebrated in over 100 countries worldwide. Supported by both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, International Education Week is designed to celebrate and advance global educational exchange opportunities. To encourage participation, the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has made available promotional materials for schools, embassies, businesses, and community organizations to engage in their own inventive format for promoting international education. You can access these resources on their website, here. The site also highlights many of the creative events hosted by educational institutions across the country. For instance, just yesterday Fox Chapel Area High School hosted “Lunch and Language Roundtables,” inviting students to practice their language skills with native German, Spanish, Italian, and French students.

If you are interested in hosting your own global education event, you aren’t too late! Similar programs continue to take place in the coming weeks. For example:

  • On November 19, 2013, Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Virginia, is holding a sampling of coffees and teas from around the world throughout the entire day.
  • On Wednesday, November 20, North Carolina State University is holding a “Passport Fair,” and will host a representative from the State Department to process student passports in one simple step.
  • On November 18, 2013, Moraine Park Technical College will announce the winner to their Best Travel Photograph competition. For roughly six weeks anyone could submit photos from abroad to the International Education Facebook page and viewers voted on their favorite.

The theme of this year’s International Education Week is International and Education: Learning Matters Around the World. As the many exciting events already planned indicate, many of us are passionate about the value of international education and studying abroad, and participation in these types of programs is on the rise. The most recent Open Doors report from the International Institute of Education revealed 819,644 international students studied in the United States during the 2012-2013 school year, and 283,332 American students studied abroad during the 2011-2012 school year (this data for the 2012-2013 academic year is not yet released). These statistics are impressive, showing that more students than ever are engaging in experiences abroad. Even more exciting is the fact that students aren’t the only ones immersing themselves in another country. The U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs oversees programs in 160 countries, providing opportunities to youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders.

These global exchange programs not only provide a gateway for exploration of a different culture, but they also foster some of the most highly educated and most deeply influential people of our time. Looking back to those who have participated in the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs exchange programs, 55 are Nobel Prize winners, eight are current or former ambassadors to the United Nations, and three are current heads of international organizations. In the modern era of professional opportunities that transcend borders, the desire to promote global competency through international education programs continues to grow!

By: Samantha Harper, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Intern