The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has the mission to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange that assist in the development of peaceful relations.” The work that I am doing this summer in the Office of Global Educational Programs helps achieve this goal. In this post I will focus on two of the branches within our office–the EducationUSA network and USA StudyAbroad–and explain how progress is measured for these groups.
EducationUSA, as you may recall from my first post, is an advising network that consists of more than four hundred advising centers around the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC and in close contact with Regional Educational Advising Coordinators (REACs) located around the world, this group facilitates events and provides resources for international students who wish to study in the U.S., whether it be at the high school, undergraduate, graduate, or PhD level.
One of the ways success is measured is through the Open Doors report, published by one of our cooperative partners, the Institute for International Education (IIE). This extensive report shows facts and figures regarding which countries international students are coming to the U.S. from, where their destination is in the U.S., which fields of study they choose, etc. Here is an image from the 2017 report that shows the five states that have the highest percentage of international students as a proportion of all higher education. Massachusetts is ranked at number two!
USA StudyAbroad helps provide resources for Americans wishing to go abroad. Progress is also measured for USA StudyAbroad through the Open Doors report. However, the data reported is on American citizens going abroad instead of international students coming to the U.S. This infographic shows that the vast majority of U.S. students who study abroad choose countries in Europe as their destination of choice:
In addition to reports, another way progress is measured is through stories. Hearing personal accounts about how programs influenced people show that they have been positively impactful. There are a wide variety of videos posted on the USA StudyAbroad website that showcase the positive impact study abroad programs have had. Although there are countless stories from alumni about their study abroad experiences, one that was exceptionally compelling is Ryan’s journey learning Chinese through the Critical Language Scholarship program by doing an immersive study abroad program in China. Watch the video here.
The data from the Open Doors report and alumni stories show that each individual experience contributes to achieving peace and mutual understanding through interactions with people from a different country and culture. The positive impact of student exchange proves to be farther reaching than the individual level, and the results are exceptional!
-Hannah Cook, ’20