The following is the fourth blog of a six-part weekly series highlighting model practices of International Student Offices.
In this series, I am looking at five model practices for student internationalization at high performing universities to help lend perspective and provide support as you increase the level of internationalization at your school. We’ve covered mission and vision statements for the international program as well as having a designated Senior International Officer (SIO) who is a strong advocate for internationalization.
Now, let’s look at the third model practice—an established infrastructure that encourages study abroad, language learning, and mixing international content into the general education curriculum. These elements are usually interwoven into everyday faculty conversations on campus and less formal of a directive. For a more practical approach, let’s look at each element in closer detail.
Encouraging Students to Study Abroad
Is your school’s study abroad program well-known or a well-kept secret on campus? Having a marketing communication plan about your school’s study abroad program is necessary to create excitement and interest on campus.
To begin, someone (usually an SIO or a Study Abroad Coordinator) must be an ardent champion of the study abroad program. This person must be able to work closely with other faculty leaders to communicate the international goals and destinations your school has to offer. You can’t offer every international destination at once. My suggestion is to focus on the three or four study-abroad countries that have the highest potential interest on campus. These destinations will, in turn, generate ideas for social events and faculty interaction.
The next step is to create social events around the cultural destinations with representative food, music, and activities. Students and faculty from these countries can speak at these events to spark the interest of those who had previously not thought about studying abroad. For 15 great ideas to help promote study abroad programs, check out this article for International Studies Abroad.
Another way to encourage students to study abroad is to create social clubs around the destination countries. Maybe it’s a Spanish Club or a French Club. Encourage exchange students to also participate who can share their personal stories and real-life experiences to help promote the program. These social clubs would provide an opportunity for both international and local students to learn about each other. It is not uncommon for a faculty member to help advise the club.
Have Foreign Language Professors Advocate Study Abroad
Here’s another marketing tip. Many students must take a foreign language to complete their degree. And, one of the first steps to learning about a new culture is to learn its language. But, have you thought about reaching out to foreign language professors about the countries you are promoting for study abroad to create a cohesive effort?
Foreign language faculty should be great advocates for the school’s study abroad program going beyond a simple endorsement at the beginning of the term. Meet with foreign language professors and go over the brochures and marketing materials for study abroad with them. Ask them to tie educational lessons and materials to the study abroad program throughout the term, which may spark their interest.
Integrate International Content into the Everyday Curriculum & Find Faculty Champions
One of the easiest and least expensive things that can do for internationalization is to incorporate international information into the curriculum. Professors can be encouraged to initiate conversations in the classroom about other countries, their cultures, their unique view, their attitudes, and their history. Instead of keeping subjects national, they can interweave other countries and cultures into everyday studies. For instance, a professor of art appreciation could broaden a discussion about Picasso by introducing the influence of African art on Picasso. These same professors can inform students about study abroad opportunities and encourage students to investigate.
What is your experience at your institution with helping create an international infrastructure? Have some things worked and other not so much? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share the experiences that you believe are the most important things you’ve done for the success of internationalization efforts at your school!
Next time in our continuing series of Five Model Practices for Student Internationalization, we’ll take a look at How to Create Increased Levels of Care on Campus to Improve the International Student Experience.
Author: Jeff Foot
Jeff Foot is the Executive Director at LewerMark and is responsible for developing new client relationships. He joined LewerMark after spending 17 years at Northwest Missouri State University where he served as Director of Admissions and International Affairs. While at the university he also served as International Affairs Director and Data Specialist for the Intercultural International Center. He has a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Missouri, a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from NMSU and a Bachelor of Arts Sociology from the University of New Brunswick in Canada. Foot also led the English as a Second Language Program at Byuk Sung College in South Korea from 1998 to 2000.