The article titled The Study-Abroad Solution: How to Open the American Mind by Sanford J. Ungar gives an insight on how Americans know so little about the rest of the world even though the Internet age has done so much to make the world a smaller place. It is important for young people to go for studies abroad since this is the only way that they can get a first-hand experience of how people in other parts of the world go about their daily business. Doing this will help the nation to grow by producing leaders who can formulate sound policies. This paper provides the summary of the article by Sanford J. Ungar and response to it.
The Benefits of Worldliness
According to Ungar, sending young Americans to foreign countries improves their understanding of global affairs, and this results in positive impacts when they come back home. Most of the countrys leaders have participated in foreign studies at some point, which widened their perspective. It has also deepened their understanding of how people in various parts of the world solve some common problems (Ungar 2). Life and studies abroad can be made affordable by ensuring that a stipend is provided to cater for some of the students needs. The United States can learn much from the students experiences abroad. This includes the manner, in which transportation and housing for the poor are organized in societies abroad, the manner, in which they publicize their cultural events, how they conduct their immunization campaigns, and many more (Ungar 2).
It is unfortunate that relatively few Americans enjoy the experience brought about by the education in foreign countries. According to the author, the number of American students enrolling for studies in foreign countries is far less as compared to the number of students from all over the world studying in the countrys institutions of higher learning (Ungar 3). A number of obstacles have contributed to this. First of all, most foreign colleges do not approve the foreign students equivalent since they mainly offer core courses. Thus, these students may not complete all their requirements within the scheduled time.
Students, who participate in athletic events in the USA, could miss their chance of a lifetime, especially if they are too absorbed in extracurricular activities such as work in radio stations, for example, because they will definitely miss the chance to take part in some major sporting event if they go abroad at the wrong time. Studying abroad is also expensive for most students (Ungar 3). However, most programs allow them to take student loans overseas for a semester or two, and this makes studying abroad affordable to some extent.
A Broader Study Abroad
American students, who study abroad, mainly major in business or management, social sciences, and humanities. Thus, there is lack of socioeconomic and curricular diversity. According to the author, the enrolment in other disciplines like sciences, technology, engineering, and math has only increased in the recent years (Ungar 4). Additionally, those in pursuit of education abroad are mainly white elites from wealthy families who already have a broader view of the outside world (Ungar 4). Thus, it is not easy to broaden the elite circle to a point where everyone can serve in any position regardless of their ethnicity or background.
Steps in the Right Direction
The United States steps up its efforts to encourage young Americans to study overseas. According to Ungar, the late Paul Simon was one of the senators who greatly advocated grants that would have made foreign education become a part of the US education experience. This was taken up by other influential people like Nick Durbin, Hillary Clinton, and President Barrack Obama (Ungar 5). So far, progress has been slow, but rigorous campaigns to encourage this will go a long way in ensuring that the number of students abroad increases tremendously.
The United States takes the right steps by encouraging students to appreciate the value of foreign education and to enroll in foreign universities. This is important in helping young people to experience life and education from a different perspective. The outside world will only develop a favorable view of the USA if young Americans live in foreign countries (Ungar 5). However, this experience will appear only if more Americans opt to study in abroad. Thus, Americans will not only be judged based on what people from other countries see in movies, television programs, military interventions, or tourists.
Make It Happen
The efforts to increase student enrolment in foreign universities have only been partially successful. Saunders states that clear and forthright U.S national educational policies that recognize the essence of global and literacy awareness for the future need to be established for the nations future (Ungar 6). The author also states that education is not the only way, through which Americans can learn about the world (Ungar 6). For instance, military men, who come back from missions overseas, are always committed to a global understanding. Additionally, most academies also conduct joint online courses and exchanges with students abroad that open the world to American students.
The entire nation must be committed to encouraging and supporting students studies abroad. For them to go through and learn much from the rigorous academic training abroad, students must have the needed financial support that will make their experience bearable. This will also encourage diversity by making it possible for students from all ethnicities and backgrounds to get a chance at studying abroad and contributing to the formulation of sound policies based on the first hand experiences and information accrued through the interaction with people from various parts off the world and education (Ungar 7).
Generally, not only does studying abroad give the students a chance to experience a different kind of living but also offers them a chance to view their country from a distance. Learning abroad expands a students view of life and events. At the same time, it could also open doors and help them create lifelong contacts and interests that would have otherwise remained untapped. Additionally, the new ideas are important in the formulation of informed policies. It is important for the United States to preserve its influence in the world since this is the only way, through which the country can create and implement consistent, rational, and nuanced foreign policies that reflect its peoples values. It is important to encourage American students to go and study abroad so that they could bring home the needed knowledge and new perspectives. Additionally, stepping outside their boarders will introduce them to the realities of the outside world, and this will go a long way in improving the countrys foreign policies and society in general.
Even though the choice to study abroad is good mainly because of the benefits associated with it, it can also be costly in terms of the time and money invested to receive a degree that one would have otherwise gotten in the USA. When a student misses a major sporting even mainly because their timing for studies abroad was not right, they will always feel like they have let themselves down regardless of how well they perform in their studies. The financial cost that the students family may have to incur when they are forced to add an extra year may also be burdening and discourage those with scant resources. Thus, the initiatives to give students loans are quite encouraging since they open up doors for more students to enroll and study abroad.
It is important to identify and alleviate the obstacles that make it impossible for many American students to pursue education abroad. The elites already have a cosmopolitan view of the outside world as compared to other citizens. If the children of immigrants have equal opportunities to study abroad, they could join the elite circles and aspire to lead in any capacity regardless of their ethnicity or background.
The United States of America is at the point where it is isolated from international occurrences, and its politicians cannot even make informed debates on foreign policies since most of them do not have an idea of what constitutes a foreign policy in the first place. Despite this, there is hope that the future generation will know more and care more about the rest of the world if the number of college and university students who go for studies abroad is increased. Thus, the government should increase their education funding to enable students regardless of their bacground to take part in this initiative.
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