With initiatives like the Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act and 100,000 Strong, and advocates like Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton, study abroad has been getting a lot of attention recently. These advocates believe that it is important for American students to have international experiences and become global citizens. They believe it will better our Nation’s international relationships.
Diversity in Study Abroad isn’t just about sending a more diverse student group abroad, it’s also about diversifying our destinations! There are several scholarships that promote travel to “non-traditional” countries, the theory being that the more globally aware Americans are, the better our international relations will be. As Michelle Obama said, you’re not just learning about a new culture while abroad, but you’re teaching the people you meet about our culture as well. As Hilary Clinton put it, study abroad students are ambassadors.
Where’s the new hotspot for abroad programs? The Middle East, Cuba and even North Korea! The UK is the most popular study abroad destination, but slowly we are seeing the number of student going to the UK decrease as students branch off the beaten path. New programs in the Middle East are being offered with increasing participation in countries like Jordan. With new allowance of academic travel to Cuba for study abroad programs, we will see a new rush of students to this long forbidden island. As students search for more programs outside the classroom, we see increased participation in field studies programs in locations like Madagascar. Just this week, Lafayette College announced their new program that goes into North Korea.
With more and more students going abroad to remote locations, developing countries and places we have previously thought to be “off-limits,” the hopes of Senator Paul Simon, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, are achievable.