by Erica Drayer, AACRAO Internship Recipient 2019/2020
International Education Week (IEW) provides an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. A joint initiative by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education
IEW features a slew of cultural and educational events hosted by higher education institutions, educational exchange programs, businesses and non-profit organizations around the globe. The nation’s capital will kick off IEW with the release
of the Institute of International Education’s 2019 Open Doors Report, which provides details on trends related to study abroad and international student enrollment at U.S. higher education institutions.
Supporting international students
According to the U.S. Department of State's 2019 Open Doors report released Monday, the number of international students in the United States set an all-time high in the 2018/19 academic year, the fourth consecutive year with more than one million international students. International student populations requires specialized support. Higher education
institutions often establish international centers as one-stop shops for international student issues. IEW is a chance to reevaluate this model and consider the prospect of integrating analogous international student services into already existing
support structures to better support international student success. This would require a strong commitment by institutions and their practitioners to consciously internationalize themselves and their roles to provide high quality support services
for international students.
Cultivating global citizens
The value of international student interaction with domestic students and vice versa cannot be understated for U.S. higher education institutions which aim to cultivate global citizens. However, this inception of the process need not wait until
adulthood. Generating interest in international education and exchange among children will encourage open-mindedness, facilitate critical thinking, and improve intercultural communication skills, all lifelong skills necessary for building relationships,
producing scholarship, and managing partnerships diplomatically. Public IEW events can serve as launch pads to introduce children to international education and foster a desire for further international experiences.
Formative international experiences: Living abroad
Living abroad is not the only way to engage in international education. However, living abroad is a uniquely formative experience. Going abroad requires bravery and one way or another a person returns changed. Regardless of the purpose (e.g. work,
study) one will be tested in new ways to succeed in their endeavors and will experience firsthand how to establish relationships across cultural differences and to problem solve using different perspectives. IEW is a great opportunity to promote
opportunities to live abroad and to consider how to transform coveted opportunities into those that are inclusive and accessible to all.
IEW is for everyone
Everybody can find a piece of themselves in international education. The plethora of events held worldwide during International Education Week seek to provide something for everyone. If you are interested in IEW events in your area please visit the
Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs website.
IEW occurs annually in November. If you wish to engage in international education opportunities in your community, it is never too late to start, and there is no better time than IEW.