by Masarah Van Eyck
Before leaving for Ireland last September, University of Wisconsin-Madison student Sarah Zink wrote about her expectations of the study abroad experience that awaited her.
“What I really want is an experience I can look back on as being life-changing,” Zink wrote. “I can’t wait to learn about a new culture, be involved in foreign government and find out more about myself.”
Zink is one of about 2,000 students who will earn UW-Madison academic credit in another country this year. A national leader in study abroad participation, UW-Madison offers students in majors from English to engineering the opportunity to experience life in another culture.
But international education doesn’t just happen abroad.
On campus, the Wisconsin Experience provides international exposure – from language learning to international housing to certificates in area studies – so students develop the skills and knowledge they will need to navigate in a global environment.
Experiences such as these will be celebrated next week during International Education Week, which provides an opportunity to mark the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.
Wisconsin native and UW-Madison alumnus Neal Vermillion, says his undergraduate education in 20th century foreign policy “was a great stepping stone” to his present career as a U.S. consul in Perth, Australia.
“I have the best of both worlds,” Vermillion recently posted to the Badgers Abroad Blog, “an international life and outlook nurtured at UW, and a Wisconsin base which will always be home no matter where I live!”
Greater globalization has increased the demand for international education.
At UW-Madison, students now can earn international certificates in engineering and global health, or enroll in an online course that includes conversation practice, oral exams and oral presentations in Mandarin.
“This is a generation that really gets that the world is global,” says Aaron Brower, vice provost for teaching and learning. “Students are aware that our actions impact people around the world and vice versa. Our job is to provide educational experiences that support this perspective.”
Among the programs that received support in the first round of Madison Initiative for Undergraduates awards are an international internship program, a service to provide better orientation to international students, and international educational opportunities in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
“This is a key moment in the history of education on our campus,” says Gilles Bousquet, dean of the Division of International Studies. “Our ability to provide students with the highest-quality, cutting-edge international opportunities will determine UW-Madison’s reputation in the next decades.”
Committed to internationalizing the campus, the Division of International Studies will host a series of town-hall meetings for students and faculty next semester to ask the where they would like to see internationalization efforts take shape.
There are a number of international activities during International Education Week, including:
– Nov. 16-22: Global Entrepreneurship Week, a program of Wiscontrepreneur, Office of Corporate Relations. For more details, visit http://www.wiscontrepreneur.org/Global-Entrepreneurship-Week.php
– Nov. 16-20: International Photo Exhibit: International Academic Programs, International Student Services, and Wisconsin School of Business International Programs will exhibit winning international student and study abroad photos from 2009. The exhibit is in the 1974 Gallery of the Red Gym.
– Nov. 17: The concept of “Global Competence” discussed on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders,” from 3-4 p.m.
– Nov. 18: Language Institute’s World Languages Day, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Memorial Union.
To follow this year’s International Academic Program Study Abroad Correspondents, visit http://blog.studyabroad.wisc.edu/.
To meet students, alumni, faculty and others on the Badgers Abroad Blog, visit http://badgersabroad.wisc.edu/blog.