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U.S. Senate Resolution: Year of Study Abroad

Why the U.S. Senate thinks study abroad is a good idea

In recognition of the long-term national benefits of sending American students abroad, the U.S. Senate issued a resolution designating 2006 as the Year of Study Abroad to raise awareness and to help increase the number of U.S. students studying abroad. The resolution itself lists the 13 reasons why broad-based support of study abroad programs is important and necessary on a national level:

1. Ensuring that the citizens of the United States are globally literate is the responsibility of the educational system of the United States.

2. Educating students internationally is an important way to share the values of the United States, to create goodwill for the United States around the world, to work toward a peaceful global society, and to increase international trade.

3. 79% of people in the United States agree that students should have a study abroad experience sometime during college, but only 1% of students from the United States currently study abroad each year.

4. Study abroad programs help people from the United States to be more informed about the world and to develop the cultural awareness necessary to avoid offending individuals from other countries.

5. 87% of students in the United States between the ages of 18 and 24 cannot locate Iraq on a world map, 83% cannot find Afghanistan, 58% cannot find Japan, and 11% cannot even find the United States.

6. Studying abroad exposes students from the United States to valuable global knowledge and cultural understanding and forms an integral part of their education.

7. The security, stability, and economic vitality of the United States in an increasingly complex global age depend largely upon having a globally competent citizenry and the availability of experts specializing in world regions, foreign languages, and international affairs.

8. Federal agencies, educational institutions, and corporations in the United States are suffering from a shortage of professionals with international knowledge and foreign language skills;

9. Institutions of higher education in the United States are struggling to graduate enough students with the language skills and cultural competence necessary to meet the current demands of business, government, and educational institutions.

10. Studying abroad influences subsequent educational experiences, decisions to expand or change academic majors, and decisions to attend graduate school.

11. Some of the core values and skills of higher education are enhanced by participation in study abroad programs.

12. Study abroad programs not only open doors to foreign language learning, but also empower students to better understand themselves and others through a comparison of cultural values and ways of life.

13. Study abroad programs for students from the United States can provide specialized training and practical experiences not available at institutions in the United States.

Officials in the federal government are becoming increasingly cognizant of the dire need for citizens who possess the skills to communicate, negotiate, and do business in diverse regions of the world. This Senate Resolution is one in an increasing number of initiatives to train Americans to cope successfully with the globalization, migration, increasing economic interdependence, communication, and travel that are increasingly bringing cultures into ever closer contact with one another.

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