Highlights from an interview with Lynn Anderson, Dean of International Education and Director of UC San Diego International Center, conducted at AFS-USA's Educator Conference in Kansas City, MO on October 22, 2011
Globalization and an increasing economic interdependence among nations has led to heightened interest among educators on how best to prepare students to interact with other cultures. In response, school curriculums today are focusing more and more on preparing students to live and work in an increasingly interconnected world. Introducing students to the Speedwell Foundation AFS Scholarships is a proven way for educators to promote international educational opportunities at the high school level.
While mastering a foreign language is one of the most obvious educational benefits of the AFS exchange program, there are many other benefits as well. Personal growth and independence are developed by learning to live away from home. Students stretch themselves and learn new life skills as they explore new opportunities and interests. New perspectives and inter-personal skills are honed as they learn to live and learn in a new environment.
The development of skills for independence and adaptability are among the key benefits of study abroad in preparing students for life after high school. Their maturity is an important reason most colleges and employers look favorably on applicants with study abroad experience. AFS students demonstrate readiness to enter new learning challenges and have developed an appreciation for other cultures that will help them succeed in work and school. Colleges and businesses recognize the importance of fostering global perspectives in their institutions and the value students with international study experience bring to these efforts
Beyond personal and language development, study abroad serves an important role in educating students about global issues, helping to prepare them to be able to engage with people throughout the world.
While some may question the value of a study abroad experience when compared to other opportunities, such as advanced placement (AP) courses, internships and service learning, there is a building movement towards promoting study abroad as an important part of educating globally competent citizens. Study abroad affords students not just the opportunity to test out of college courses, but the independence, self awareness and interpersonal and intercultural skills to further their success in school and their lives beyond the classroom.
For more information on the educational benefits of study abroad and for additional resources on incorporating global learning into the classroom, visit the AFS-USA Educator's portal, or contact the AFS-USA Susquehanna Valley Team.