What I learned at the White House Travel Blogger Summit this week…!
On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, the White House invited over 100 social media influencers in travel and global citizenship to Washington, D.C. to discuss study abroad programs for students. Puzzled about the high level concern? Statistics show that our country is lacking in global ambassadors abroad, and this effects our global economic competitiveness and matters of global security.
Did you know that from 2012-2013 just under 300,000 U.S. students studied abroad for university credit?
It sounds like a big number, right? Well, according to Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State, that number accounts for just 1.5% of the population of 20 million students enrolled during that same time period. Just 1.5%. Shocking, right? Yet, nearly 50% of students indicate that they are interested in studying abroad when they first enter university. So, why is traveling abroad as a student actually a rarity?
Some barriers to taking the international leap can be finances (that was my case!), no flexibility to take courses outside the university in your major, parental concerns, roommate concerns, intimidation of living in a foreign country and lack of information about programs and scholarships.
These were the type of issues that we discussed with top U.S. government officials at the White House Travel Blogger Summit this week. In fact, the White House has announced the launch of a U.S. study abroad office within the next 6 months, as well as, the first-ever Virtual Study Abroad Fair, to be held on February 25, 2015. The new office will help make it easier for more students, regardless of sex, race or socioeconomic status to make studying abroad a reality. And perhaps, we, at World Moms Blog can help with the parental concern part. 😉 (Stay tuned to the blog for advice for parents!)
Why is the U.S. State Department pushing the value of an international component of education?
Our next generation of leaders must have experience as global citizens to be able to “operate within the global political and economic landscape of the 21st century”, according to Evans. An increase of Americans traveling, studying, working and volunteering abroad also helps to break false American stereotypes.
Making Study Abroad Affordable…
Affording to study abroad is not a reality for many American students, which limits the pool of our student ambassadors, limiting the world’s picture of who the American student is. The diversity of American students has not been properly represented to the world with 76% of study abroad students in the 2012-2013 academic year being white, 5% African American, 8% Hispanic, 7% Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% Native American, as per Ryan.
In my own student experience, I spent a summer abroad in Japan in high school thanks to a local scholarship, when I got to college the door to study abroad was closed to me. I was receiving need-based financial aid at a private university consisting of both, Federal aid and aid from my university’s scholarship fund. However the private funds only applied to my education at the university, not abroad. So, I was disappointingly priced out.
This week I had the opportunity to speak with Evan Ryan one-on-one just before she spoke at the White House Travel Bloggers conference, and when I told her my story, she told me about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. This scholarship aims to target the population of U.S. students underrepresented in study abroad programs and sends about 2,000 kids abroad to study annually. To be considered for the scholarship, a U.S. student must be receiving need-based financial aid, such as an US Pell Grant or US Stafford Loan (two types of government subsidized need-based university financial aid).
The challenge? Over 9,000 students apply for the Gilman scholarship each year, but only 2,000 can go. It would be great for more students on need-based financial aid to have a global education experience, and the launch of the new U.S. office of study abroad plans to work toward just that goal — that study abroad is for everyone.
The Economic and Political Landscape is Changing and Friendship Aids Navigation
With greater access to transportation and technology in this day and age, the economic and political landscape is changing. There will continue to be more business and government roles that will require candidates who have foreign language skills and global experience. And, perhaps, the most important and overlooked landscape? Friendship.
Having friends around the world is interesting, fun and mind opening, as we have been learning for the past 4 years, here, at World Moms Blog. Being able to put ourselves in our foreign neighbors’ shoes to better understand what their lives are like makes us more understanding global citizens, and vice versa.
One of my most interesting moments in blog friendship was when one of our international contributors that I’ve been working with here over the years once said to me, “I had no idea Americans could be as understanding as you.” It took me by surprise! But then I realized where her statement was coming from — she was getting to know my country in a more personal way through our friendship, just as I was getting to know hers. Social interaction is key to global citizenship and breaking stereotypes.
Just by increasing the human interaction between people of different countries and cultures, I really believe that her sentence can be replaced with any nationality. The key is getting to know each other and realizing that what it is to be a good human prevails behind borders, burkas, playing helmets, Mardi Gras masks, kilts, saris, newspaper headlines and beyond. We just have to get to know one another, human to human, and then we can better navigate the changing global landscapes…together.
Want to know more about the White House Travel Blogger Summit? Watch the video here:
“When we study together and we learn together; we work together and we prosper together.” — President Barack Obama May 3, 2013 **Stay tuned for more about the White House Travel Bloggers Summit on World Moms Blog — we have even more to say about our tour of the White House, experience at the National Press Corp., Newseum tour and dinner sponsored by Turkish Airlines and additional speakers on global citizenship and travel abroad!
This is an original post by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA, to World Moms Blog.
When you become a parent things change.
Saying that children turn your life turns upside down, inside out and back again is most definitely not an understatement.
Bodily changes, sleep deprivation and related mental breakdowns aside, one of the major changes is the relationship with your own parents. Because in a weird way you are suddenly equals. You are both parents.
Granted, your parents might have a bit more experience on the job, but you might consider yourselves employees of the same company now.
You are the newbie and they are the old stalwarts who will insist on explaining how the coffee machine works. Even though it has only one button. And just like in the office, you each have your own way of going about the daily job that is parenting.
It was my father who pointed this out to me when he remarked that I was a very different mother to my children than my mother was to me.
Of course this is true, mainly due to the fact that I’m NOT my mother (no, really, I’m not my mother, I might have started to look a lot more like her, use the same phrases, and have taken up some of her habits, but I AM NOT MY MOTHER).
Characterwise my mom and I are poles apart. She is one of those patient, focused, well-organized, grownup creatures we all secretly wish to be. And I am an impatient firecracker, who is working on a million things at once and who can never be bothered about matching socks.
But I have to admit that my parenting style is different too. Some of it is deliberate and some not.
For instance, I never deny my children a food or beverage using the words ‘it will make you fat’, opting instead for ‘it is not healthy’ or ‘it is bad for your teeth’. I know this is no guarantee for avoiding any body-image/food–related trouble but I like to think it gives them a better chance for avoiding the damage some of us (myself included) went through.
Neither do I use spanking as a means of punishment. My parents spanked, but I quite frankly don’t see the point. Within a few years withholding privileges and time outs will probably looked upon as barbaric and the toddler shock collar might be all the rage but for now the “Go to your room and no movie” or “Pull out all the weeds from the garden” work for us.
My girls enjoy a greater amount of freedom then I did at their age. For instance there are A LOT of unscheduled play dates. Especially during summer, it is not uncommon for me to walk into the kitchen and find myself confronted by five children. My friends were welcome to come and play, but there had to be a call and confirmation from both sets of parents in advance. Permission still has to be asked and we need to know approximately in which house they’ll be. But planning… nope.
I won’t even begin to describe the difference regarding electronics and their use. Remember I was born in a time when a phone with push–buttons instead of dial ones was considered cutting edge. The mobile phone was something straight out of a science fiction movie. Plus I lived in Africa, where there was no such thing as TV. Although we did in fact own a television the only thing it played where VHS cassettes (remember those!?) which were sent to us by friendly relatives left behind in Belgium.
The one thing we do have in common though is that we both do our best.
We do our best to ensure our children grow up happy. We try to avoid ‘mistakes’ of the past. We try our best to make sure the little humans in our care grow up to be level-headed adults and can only hope our pottering along will turn out all right in the end.
Do you ‘parent’ differently compared to your own parents? If Yes, how so?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes. Photo credit:Eric Danley. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
Ever felt like you have way too much stuff in your life? I do and it’s causing me unnecessary stress.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit, but I’m a hoarder. I keep cereal boxes and even toilet rolls thinking that I’ll use them for craft work with my daughter, someday, someday…
Plus I’m a huge sucker for pretty home decoration and knick knacks. I also believe that a girl can never has too many pairs of shoes and a wardrobe should be well equipped for just about any occasion. And it doesn’t help that I have itchy fingers that like to dabble in new craft projects every now and then (my latest pet project is December Daily and I’m embarking on Project Life). And as a result, my house is threatening to burst at the sides…
And so for my 2014 New Year resolution, my new mantra is “Less Stuff, More Life“.
My husband was more than happy when I shared this with him. I thought I even saw his thought bubble with a huge, “It’s about time!” complete with a huge exclamation mark.
While it may be too early for New Year resolutions, it’s a good idea to think about what you want for yourself in the brand new year. I’m resolving to be intentional and purposeful with my life, time and energy. That would also means that
I will have to say no to some things in my life so that I can make space for things that truly matter.
I’m making a choice to do things that will add joy and contentment to eliminate stress and tiredness so that I can enjoy more life and go the distance.
Gifting the gift of an experience
And on that note, I’m doing something different for this Christmas. Instead of giving presents all wrapped up in a box and fancy paper, I’m choosing to give friends and family the gift of an experience. In our society, most people around me don’t need anything (though they may have plenty of wants). And I think what will make it meaningful is to gift them an experience be it a cooking class, a play or maybe even a meal lovingly prepared for them.
Here are some ideas I came up for my own gift giving:
- For a child, a membership to the zoo, or field trip. Even a membership at an indoor playground will be received.
- For a spouse, love coupons for monthly, or up it to weekly, dates. Or how about a spa package that you both can enjoy? 🙂 And if they like the arts, then a play, musical, concert or even movie treat will be much appreciated.
- For a friend who’s also a parent, a night of babysitting will be so so appreciated.
- For a coffee fan, a list of new cafes that have popped up so that they can go cafe hopping.
And since my hubby’s birthday is before Christmas, he’s the first recipient of my experience gift! I can’t wait to surprise him with what’s in store.
Have you finished all your Christmas shopping? If not, perhaps you’ll like to rethink your gifts and challenge yourself to think out of the box and give someone an experience rather than a wrapped up gift. Let me know how it works out, if you do!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Moms Blog contributor, Susan Koh, of Singapore.
Photo credit to World Moms Blog.
Arabic in the sand for "Happy Birthday UAE."
In New York, once I had kids, I tried to ignore the 4th of July. To me the 4th meant crowds, heat, and noise: too many people jammed along whichever river was the site of the fireworks, too many picnickers having too much to drink; and too much general mayhem for comfort: call me crazy, but the idea of teen-agers roaming the streets brandishing small explosive devices doesn’t seem particularly festive.
Once or twice when the boys were young, we braved the crowds, shoving the stroller ahead of us like a battering ram through the throngs. But in the long run? Not worth it.
What else I don’t do on the 4th? I don’t wear flag colors (I’m a New Yorker. We wear black. Year-round. It’s an entire city filled with women who dress like Morticia and Wednesday). (more…)
It’s near the end of the pediatrician’s visit. Time for the vaccinations. Ugh. My heart sinks. “It’s just a pinch!” I say with a fake smile on my face. “You will be just fine.”
My daughter begins to climb under the examination table and repeat out loud, “I don’t want a shot! I don’t want a shot!” Tears begin to pour out, anxiety levels rise in the room, including my own.
“Why do I have to have one, Mommy?” “It prevents you from getting a really bad disease that can make you really sick”, I say. She can’t really comprehend the enormity of that statement at 4 years old. She continues to protest, from under the table.
The doctor and nurse softly try to get her out. Finally, they just pick her up and sit her back on the table. I sit right next to her, holding her. My heart is in my stomach. (more…)