Barry McNamara  |   Published November 18, 2015

International Education Week

New passport program just one way that college is covering the globe
As the world observes International Education Week through Nov. 20, Monmouth College is doing its part to promote international education and study abroad, including a new initiative that provides a U.S. passport at no charge to entering students.
  Introduced by President Clarence R. Wyatt during his inauguration remarks earlier this year, the Monmouth College Passport Program “opens the world to our students” by providing the paperwork and application fee for each Monmouth student to receive a U.S. passport. Students with a passport have access to 172 other countries for travel, study and internship opportunities.   In addition, the college has welcomed more than 55 degree seeking international students since the fall of 2013 in a renewed commitment to international student outreach and global visibility as an outstanding college and an excellent choice for thoughtful undergraduate students from around the world. The number of Monmouth students participating in the International Student Exchange Program and the program with Akita University in Japan has increased in the past two years, as well.   The 2015 Open Doors Report, created by the Institute of International Education (IIE), showed a 5 percent growth in U.S. students studying abroad, the largest growth in five years. The report is released annually during International Education Week.   “International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century education,” noted IIE president Allan Goodman.   Monmouth was among the first signatories on IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, which is intended to increase the number of U.S. students studying abroad each year. Faculty members James Godde and Kristin Larson attended the first Generation Study Abroad Summit 2015 in Washington, D.C., last month.   “The off-campus experience has the potential to increase awareness of multiple perspectives, necessitate independent problem solving, increase self-awareness and foster civic engagement,” said Larson, who serves as Monmouth’s off-campus study coordinator. “The benefits are two-fold. These skills lie at the heart of a liberal arts education and contribute to better learning and higher graduation rates. Further, these skills are the kind of transferable abilities that set our students apart when employers are making hiring decisions.”   Corey Yost, a senior from Eldridge, Iowa, studied in Chile last spring. She neatly summarized the benefits that such an experience provides.   “I pushed myself to learn a language which I previously thought was nearly impossible, and I’ve changed so much in the last year. I owe it all to pushing my limits and seizing the opportunities that accompany study abroad.”   Not only is study abroad helpful in the education of young people, but so is interaction on campus with international students who have chosen Monmouth. Bren Tooley, the college’s director of international recruitment, said recent events and the complexity of global conflicts and environmental issues only amplify the importance of international education and global awareness at Monmouth College. Fortunately, as she notes, the Monmouth College mission includes the goal of educating students to be global citizens by introducing students to multiple perspectives on the human condition and promoting awareness of global perspectives both through the curriculum and through campus life.   “It’s increasingly important that our students understand in some depth a range of world cultures and have the ability to communicate intelligently with people who come from cultural, historical and political contexts unlike their own,” said Tooley, who noted that with students enrolled this semester from China and Palestine, the college now has 36 countries represented within its student population (including both degree-seeking and exchange students).   “We celebrate International Education Week as Monmouth faculty and staff support efforts to internationalize our student body and curriculum,” she added. “These efforts take many forms, from coordinating study abroad exchanges, fostering partnerships with international programs, and encouraging our students to participate, to searching out and developing connections with agencies that place international students in the U.S, to fostering interactions on campus with an increasingly diverse student population.”   During the fall semester alone, Monmouth has participated in several international initiatives, including welcoming a Fulbright foreign language teaching assistant (FLTA) from Argentina and two students through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program. Two international students, Angham Jaradat of Palestine and Luna Noofoory of Syria (via Lebanon), received prestigious scholarships from the State Department, as they earned the Hope Fund Award and the Diana Kamal Scholarship award, respectively.   The college recently formed a chapter of Better Together, affiliated with the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, which seeks to replace the conflict associated with religious differences with understanding and support.   Those newer developments go hand-in-hand with other long-standing traditions at Monmouth.   “The college hosts an intercultural fair in the fall, conducts a week-long orientation program specifically for international students and has a host family program and an Intercultural House, which not every campus our size has as a resource,” said Tooley, who regularly attends EducationUSA forums and led several webinars with EducationUSA advising centers during International Education Week that intensified outreach to international students.   Monmouth also has a distinguished tradition of sending accomplished graduates into international education at international schools around the world. Alumni in the field include Tom Ulmet ’64, David Shawver ’70, Travis Coverdell ’92 and Luke Devlin ’12.   One affiliation with particular historical resonance that Monmouth has developed is with Scotland’s University of the Highlands and Islands, which not only makes study abroad more affordable for Monmouth students, but also continues an “international education” connection that has been present since the college’s inception, as Monmouth was founded in 1853 by Scottish Presbyterians.
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