Through my own personal international education and involvement in international programs I have come to realize the importance of these programs for American citizens. Our world is becoming increasingly smaller and more interconnected every day. Current world events such as the 9/11, the demise of the Soviet Union and the Iraq war are making it even more vital that American citizens have an understanding for being able to work, live and interact with other cultures every day.
My practicum was done in coordination with the University of Kansas (KU) and their international and study abroad programs posing the question of how can Americans adjust to an ever shrinking world involving working, living and interacting cross-culturally every day? I surveyed KU’s international students during the school year 2005-2006 and KU’s returned study abroad students who had studied abroad from Fall 2004 until Fall 2005. Through this survey I asked the students about their safety and comfort with the program they took part in, how their experience influenced them academically, socially, culturally and in other ways relating to their view of the world and life in general, how their academic advisor helped or hindered their experience, and advice they could give future international and study abroad students.
With the survey answers that I received I was amazed at the similarities that I saw between the KU international and returned study abroad students. I recognized through my practicum and personal past experiences that American students and participants are usually buffered in some fashion from getting involved with people from other countries. My survey results show that the people who take part in these programs though have a strong interest in working, living and interacting with people from other cultures. International programs and study abroad programs at American universities should work closer together allowing the American students even more direct contact with international students. Only through this type of involvement will it become easier for Americans to work, live and interact with other cultures.
International and Comparative Education | International and Intercultural Communication
Dietz, Heidi, "Urgent Need for International Programs" (2007). Capstone Collection. 53.