Instead of going to Mexico, 18 students have chosen to spend their next spring break in a less traveled foreign land further to the East.
Thanks to a $165,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, business majors have a new option in the international business program, with an emphasis on global logistics. They can travel to China, and they have.
Part of the two-year grant is earmarked for the new option, which is a joint program between the Systems and Operations Management Department and the Marketing Department, said Ali Behnezhad, professor of systems and operations management.
Behnezhad is co-director of the grant with Rafi Efrat, professor of accounting and information systems.
‘China is a major economic force,’ Behnezhad said. ‘The students toured a General Motors plant in China and a major port to get a feel for logistics operations for international trade.’
Behnezhad said students’ response to the chance of traveling to China was overwhelming.
‘We received over 200 applications,’ Behnezhad said. ‘Selecting was a tough task because the majority of students were well-qualified. Through screening and interviews, we selected the 18 who went on the trip. We got very positive feedback. Students wrote a report and completed a survey. Eighteen of 18 rated the trip excellent and very beneficial.’
The number of Americans studying and working abroad is at an all-time high, numerous experts and a recently published annual report by the Institute of International Education indicate.
The Open Doors 2007 survey released in November 2007 shows that the number of American students studying abroad is at a record level, up 8.5 percent to a total of 223,534 for the 2005-06 academic year compared to the previous year.
The Open Doors survey, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, revealed that not only are more students studying abroad, but they are also studying in non-traditional destinations such as Asia (up 26 percent), Latin America (up 14 percent), Africa (up 19 percent) and the Middle East (up 31 percent).
Sherry Schwarz, editor and publisher of Vermont-based Transitions Abroad, an online resource for living, working and studying abroad, said the federal government passed a bill that will help the U.S. become globally competitive.
‘The Senate recognizes the need for students to have a foreign language and spend time in non-traditional destinations, such as Latin America, Asia and Africa,’ said Schwarz.
Schwarz, who studied and traveled abroad, is referring to the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act of 2007, named after the late U.S. senator from Illinois. The legislation passed the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2008.
This legislation creates a national program that will establish study abroad as the norm, not the exception, for undergraduate students, the International Association of Educator’s Web site indicates. The hope is that one million students each year will spend part of their undergraduate studies abroad.
Schwarz said the first step in working overseas is the ability to add to one’s resume the foreign cultural experiences and language skills obtained when studying abroad.
Juliet Aylmer, study abroad and national student exchange advisor, not only has first-hand experience in studying overseas, but she also knows how to guide students through the process of researching, preparing for and applying to the Cal State University (CSU) International Programs.
In her position for the last 11 months, Aylmer came to CSUN by way of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, with husband Robert Taylor. Aylmer is originally from the U.K.
‘Students don’t know what they are missing,’ said Aylmer, who first came to the U.S. as a study abroad student in 2004 while working on a master’s degree in ancient history. She worked part time in the same department she now runs at CSUN.
‘They are missing a life-changing opportunity,’ said Aylmer of students who have not studied abroad. ‘I came here as a mature student. I had no idea I would end up working here three years later. All the students who have gone abroad say it has exceeded their expectations.’
The number of CSUN students studying abroad fluctuates year-to-year.
During the 2003-2004 school year, 67 CSUN students studied abroad. While the number decreased to 44 students for 2006-07 academic year, it increased to 51 students last year.
Aylmer’s goal is to increase the number of students studying abroad to help American students better prepare to work in a global economy.
The CSU International Programs offer eligible students the opportunity to study in one of 18 countries for one academic year.
There are valuable benefits of studying abroad through the CSU International Programs.
Aylmer said that if students were eligible for financial aid at CSUN, they would still get it if they study abroad through this program.
CSUN students pay CSUN tuition, even if the overseas university costs more.
The Web is teeming with information and opportunities for working abroad. Individuals who have studied, lived, worked and traveled extensively in foreign countries write much of the material.
Jean-Marc Hachey, author of ‘The BIG Guide to Living and Working Overseas’ ($53.95), works at Toronto-based workingoverseas.com.
Hachey was employed overseas for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World University Service, Canadian Crossroads International and the German Volunteer Service.
Hachey has presented seminars about opportunities abroad to students since 1990, and he is a columnist for transitionsabroad.com.
‘With today’s global economy, there are more international jobs than ever before,’ Hachey said. ‘Many are overseas, but the largest growth is for those based in the U.S. in today’s new world of work. Employers are requiring employees to have global experience even if they never set foot outside their U.S. hometown.’
Recently re-launched with the latest features, workingoverseas.com offers much free information, including ‘Jean-Marc’s Quick Tips’ in video format, as well as a generous sampling of information from Hachey’s book.
CSU International Programs offer eligible students the opportunity to study at one of 18 countries. Go to csun.edu/international/abroad.