Exchanged experiences and international education is becoming increasingly powerful in a globally functioning world. This week the Morgridge Center for Public Service celebrates International Education Week 2019 to recognize the benefits of studying and experiencing our international community.
International Education Week, a U.S Department of State and U.S Department of Education initiative, promotes the importance of programs that educate and help develop future global leaders across the country.
Here at the University of Wisconsin–Madison we aim to build those leaders by “sharing the world with Wisconsin and Wisconsin with the world,” as states the International Division.
Joining together students from across the United States, international students around the world and an international outlook on teaching and research, UW–Madison intends to foster collaboration and cooperation globally.
Alice Liang, a junior international student from Beijing, China, says that succeeding in our global society starts with understanding other perspectives. Liang enjoys the chance to bring her experiences growing up in China to her political science class discussions.
“Sometimes I don’t share the same perspective as the American students, but that’s the beauty of it. We all debate, talk about the issue and I get to share my personal perspective with them and my professors,” Liang says.
International education is not only about exposing students to diverse cultures but about mutually learning from different people around the globe. Liang has the opportunity to share her story in classes, but these discussions and getting involved around campus in co-curricular programs like Badger Volunteers has allowed her to also learn from students at UW–Madison.
“I am constantly learning from others. Studying abroad is so valuable because you are experiencing a new environment that you know nothing about,” Liang says. “It’s constantly experiencing, learning and accepting.”
Mutual learning can often come through interactions with foreign community members in the form of service. Both Liang and Megan Hinaus, a junior civil engineer student, have participated in direct service internationally, developing new perspectives while working with their local communities.
Hinaus spent a summer in Kenya learning about a communities’ values and educational system. Through her work with school children, she was able to better understand her positioning in the world.
“By going to a different country, someplace that is not how I imagine and different than how I grew up, I realized what I have experienced is different from a lot of people across the world,” Hinaus explains.
Hinaus and Liang both acknowledge that studying abroad is extremely valuable, but not always obtainable for everyone.
Talia Tao, a teaching assistant and current PhD international student studying civil society and community studies, stressed that having international education and interactions within the classroom then becomes that much more important.
“It’s good that they can interact with international people as their classmates and teaching assistants, it’s a good way to open the window for them,” Tao says.
As our world becomes increasingly integrated, introducing foreign cultures to students at a young age is important and will benefit them not only personally but will open our society to solving more diverse issues.
“It will broaden their mind and they will be more open to new issues and knowledge, and in the future making them more adaptive to the global world,” Tao expresses.
Besides developing more openminded people, Tao finishes by saying it’s also just good for the soul.
“Learning international is a good way to stimulate the enthusiasm of life – the world is full of stuff to explore,” Tao says. “And It’s good for mental health too.”