Nov. 16, 2009
Liz Babiarz Klipp, 404-413-1356
Since taking Spanish classes in high school, Greg Jarvis has been intrigued by Hispanic culture and filled with a desire to travel to Latin American countries.
So the GSU senior was thrilled to study abroad last spring in Argentina, where he not only satisfied his "wanderlust" but gained valuable career experience by studying virology.
"I think that the only way to really experience a worldly outlook on life is to see other person's cultures," Jarvis said. "Maybe you read about it in books, but being there and having that mutual understanding comes with experiencing another country."
Jarvis was one of roughly 600 Georgia State University students who studied abroad last year. He enjoyed the culture in Buenos Aires so much Jarvis took many pictures, one of which won first place in the 2009 "Crossing Paths, Crossing Cultures" photography contest, in the "places" category.
The photo competition is one part of the university's International Education Week, an annual event on campus. It's an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State highlighting the importance of enhancing students' knowledge of other cultures and perspectives.
The GSU International Education Week will continue with "Broadening Horizons: Minority Students and Study Abroad Panel Discussion," from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Monday (Nov. 16) in the Student Center Speaker's Auditorium. The events wrap up with an International Thanksgiving Feast at 12 p.m. on Nov. 20 in the Rialto's lobby. For a complete list of events, visit http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwoia/iew_2009.htm.
Indeed, Georgia State has a lot to celebrate when it comes to international education. Currently, the university has 42 faculty-led study abroad programs and 15 exchanges that will send students out of the country this year. These programs are administered by various departments in all six colleges on campus and vary from two weeks to a year in duration.
The university is trying to increase the number of study abroad experiences for students, adding 12 programs this year alone. New destinations include Ethiopia, Liberia, Tanzania, Sweden, Jordan, New Zealand, Morocco, and Trinidad and Tobago.
In addition, Georgia State is working hard to ensure students of all backgrounds, race and disciplines are able to study abroad, thanks to scholarships awarded through GSU's International Education Fee and the Georgia State University Foundation.
"More than ever before, students are expected to graduate with a demonstrated knowledge of international relations and cross-cultural communication skills," said Farrah Bernardino, director of study abroad programs at GSU. "Borders are blurring in our world, and students must be able to show they possess the skills to act and work as global citizens."
Georgia State is also home to a growing number of international students. The university enrolled this fall more than 350 new international students, the highest number since Sept. 11, 2001, including 28 participants in the Fulbright program. The Fulbright Foreign Student Program, which was founded in 1946, brings international students to the United States for masters and doctoral study.
In total, 3,604 international students - including students on visa, green cards and refugees - attend Georgia State, making up almost 12 percent of the university's student body and representing 137 countries.
"International students and scholars bring a unique perspective to our campus and its classrooms, broadening the world view of domestic students and enhancing the college experience," said Heather Housley, GSU director of International Student & Scholar Services.
Building international perspectives and dimensions into teaching, learning and research are principal goals of the university.
Collaborative relationships with other institutions are an important means of increasing international engagement of GSU's faculty, staff and students, explains Associate Provost for International Affairs John F. Hicks. At present, Georgia State has 86 current agreements with 78 higher education institutions in 28 countries across the world.
GSU also promotes faculty international engagement through the university's international strategic initiative seed grants program, in which small grants are used to secure larger external grants from U.S. public agencies and private foundations.
This program has led to Georgia State's involvement in Brazil, China, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, the Republic of Georgia, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, South Africa and elsewhere. Last year, seed grants attracted an additional $3.41 million in external grant funds. Since the program was initiated in 1997, it has leveraged $52 million in external funding to support the university's international initiatives.
"Continuing to strengthen international education at GSU is imperative in order to equip our students with an education that is both locally and globally relevant and prepares them to meet the complex challenges of today's world," Hicks said.