Monday, May 17, 2010

Is it a good thing to send 1,000,000 U.S. students abroad?

I asked this question over on IHEC Blog's Facebook page last week and thought I would ask here as well.

For the record, I support the Simon legislation and the goal of sending 1,000,000 U.S. students to study abroad. For the sake of discussion I wonder, from a public diplomacy perspective, if it a good thing to send so many students abroad?

What are your thoughts on this?

Note: I'm trying something new with this post as I'm using a blogging application on my iPhone as I'm sitting here at Houston Hobby airport on my way home from a meeting at IIE Houston today. I can't add links nor upload photos/videos so I probably won't use this much but I'm trying to find something useful for NAFSA/other conferences as I don't want to carry a heavy laptop around.


  1. David- This is a neat thing you've done. Seems to me that we have to consider in whose self-interest it is to send 1 million students abroad. I've not read much about the capacity of the world's educational infrastructure to absorb such a huge number of international students. Since most students study in Europe -esp. in the UK- where will these students be enrolled? Will the Simon Bill bring more Americans to the developing world in larger numbers? And for me the critical question is why a student chooses to study abroad? Are advisors in both EA and career offices prepared to provide the needed perspective on how the international experience supports the career goals of each student?

    Marty Tillman, Johns Hopkins-SAIS
    Office of Career Services

  2. @Marty ~ Many thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Much appreciated! I agree that capacity of various countries and cities to absorb an increased number of international students (both U.S. and others) is an important issue. I also agree about motivation to study abroad. I think many (most) are seeking an educational opportunity abroad for the right reasons but there are many who are not. My concern with so many U.S. students abroad is the "ugly America" group that will increase with more U.S. students abroad. What leads to the ugly American view is the increased use of English abroad (and the expectation that host country nationals speak in English) and the partying (among other variables). On Twitter you can find bars/bar districts posting tweets about drink specials and pub crawls in cities like Buenos Aires and Amsterdam. To be sure, I think that most students are not heading abroad and acting in destructive or disruptive ways but this is a concern of mine.