Study Abroad Is Necessity, Not Luxury (Opinion)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Even in challenging economic times, making sure that study abroad is part of our college students' education is a vital investment. If we want a new generation of leaders and innovators who can be effective in an ever more globalized world, sending our students overseas is not a luxury. It's a necessity. I believe that our national security rests upon the foundation of a well-educated electorate with a broad and sophisticated worldview. Ninety-six percent of humanity lives outside our borders — and we risk being left in the dust if we don't know how to effectively engage the world. It's critical to deal smartly with the emerging economic and military powers of China and India, and we must better understand the intricacies of Islam. While Germany is increasingly going wind-powered, the Dutch are building up their dikes and Africa is fighting a growing desert, we need policies more insightful than "drill, baby, drill." Fear vs. understanding There's a lot of fear in our society today. Students who travel learn that fear is for people who don't get out much. And they learn that the flip side of fear is understanding. Travelers learn to celebrate, rather than fear, the diversity on our planet. Learning in a different culture and place allows us to see our own challenges in sharp contrast, and with more clarity, as we observe smart people in other lands dealing with similar issues.

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