Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cultural Exchange or American Dominance?

Part of the description of IHEC Blog states “from time to time, International Higher Education Consulting Blog will post thought provoking pieces to challenge readers and to encourage comments and professional dialogue” and I hope that this post meets this criteria so here goes it…

I came across an interesting article over lunch entitled “Is $120 Million Study Abroad Bill About Cultural Exchange or American Dominance?” which was posted yesterday to MatadorAbroad.com. I think the author, Sarah Menkedick, raises some interesting/important points that are worthy of discussion here on IHEC Blog.

What’s your take on the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act? Is it about cultural exchange or American dominance or is it a little bit of both?

Here is a video of Senator Paul Simon from November 13, 2003 (a few weeks before his untimely death) announcing his vision of the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program:

I plan to post more to IHEC Blog about sending one million students abroad in the near future. I leave you with this thought I have; if the United States does reach the goal of sending one million students abroad I wonder how many more “Itaewon” type areas will be established across the globe?

This post is related to a similar to a March 30, 2009 IHEC Blog post entitled “Spreading of Colonial Influence Abroad via the Peace Corps” which you can read and comment on


  1. This is an interesting post. I think it comes down to proving the value of study abroad. Why else would the American government and other private foundations fund study abroad if it is not for the security of our country? Saying that study abroad is a good time -- while true -- does not justify a reason for putting money into it. Are study abroad practitioners doing a good job of letting the public know the real benefits of study abroad? I never did study abroad; I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa and I always say that PC was the best thing that ever happened to me. But the reasons why are difficult to convey to people who never traveled and have no desire to travel (and by travel, I don't mean a week long cruise in the Caribbean...).

  2. @Mrs. Agouda ~ Many thanks for your comment! I always wanted to join the Peace Corps (there's still time and I won't rule it out during my retirement!) but it just wasn't to be after I graduated.

    I don't think study abroad practitioners are doing a good job of letting the public know of the real benefits of study abroad.

    I do think Peace Corps Volunteers are better ambassadors for the U.S. over U.S. students studying abroad. Partly, I belive, this is due to being older and more mature than the average college aged student studying abroad on an increasing number of short-term programs. Peace Corps Volunteers are committing to a much longer term abroad that involves service.

    Speaking of the Peace Corps...today I received word that the U.S. Congress is beginning final action on Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations and that the final bill contains $400 million for the Peace Corps.