Bridging College and the World

by Lily Forsman

On Thursday, September 25, journalist Elizabeth Redden gave a presentation about current trends in internationalization in higher education.  She addressed several points relating to effective study abroad programs, creating global citizens, foreign language requirements, the recruitment and integration of international students, and the roles and values of universities and institutions in the internationalization process. Redden’s ideas were eye-opening and challenging. She introduced me to problems I had never considered before, and inspired me to ponder many of her questions myself in relation to my own life and my personal campus experiences.

The idea that struck me most is that U.S. university students and faculty alike may not be prepared for international students.  Are we cross-culturally competent enough to understand and welcome them?  Do we take an interest in them and make them feel like equals on our campus and in our community?  The number of international students in the United States is growing rapidly, which is great for boosting the economy and increasing diversity.  However, we are missing a huge opportunity for personal and cultural enrichment by leaving international students in the margins. The more we get to know these students and involve them in our communities, the more we will be able to learn with and from them.  Forming personal connections with these students is a great way to not only learn about other cultures and perspectives, but to meet unique individuals who could be our friends throughout and beyond our time in college.  It is up to us to ensure that international students feel welcome here and, more importantly, to give them a sense of belonging.

So, UWEC, how can we create a more inclusive community and bring people together? I would encourage you all to appreciate the experiences available to you because of our campus’ internationalization efforts, and to get involved as much as you can!

For more information on what our university is doing, there is more information at the Council on Internationalization and Global Engagement’s website.