Students Connecting Our World Gains Momentum

December 15, 2011

By Ursula Oaks

"Students Connecting Our World" is wrapping up its first semester, and we're really excited about the response so far. In case you haven't heard, "Students Connecting Our World" is the student side of NAFSA's grassroots advocacy community "Connecting Our World." It's a place where college students can find a community of people like them interested in study abroad and learning about the world. We are inviting students to connect with each other online; share stories, tips, and ideas about study abroad; find resources; and discover new ways to support international education.

We've met so many amazing students – some of them now former students – over the years, and their commitment to international education inspired this community. Hammad Hammad, one of the early winners of our Student Diplomat contest, went on to found Inspire Dreams and spoke at the NAFSA's 2011 Annual Conference in Vancouver as part of a plenary panel on social entrepreneurship. Mitch Smith caught up with us in Kansas City, his hometown, after touring Africa with New York Times journalist Nick Kristof as winner of his 2010 Win-A-Trip contest. Last year an entire group of students from Ramapo College joined us for NAFSA's Advocacy Day and made a big impression on Capitol Hill.

Since we launched our "Students Connecting Our World" Facebook page in early September, it has gotten more than 400 "likes," and recently, over 1,000 people voted in our Student Diplomat Video Contest, co-sponsored by STA Travel (a NAFSA Global Partner) in which we asked students to tell us, in a short, compelling video, about a study abroad experience that placed them in the role of "student diplomat." Benjamin Hershey of Ohio State University won the contest for his story of learning and personal growth during a study abroad experience as an urban planning student in Dresden, Germany.

We're especially thankful to our student ambassadors for "Students Connecting Our World," who have really stepped up to help us create content for this initiative, make it relevant to students, and spread the word. These ambassadors include Nora Dougherty and Brendan Flanagan of Ramapo College; Monica Shah of American University; Kyle D'Souza, who recently earned her masters at New York University; and NAFSA's public policy interns from American University this past fall, Elsha DeJong and Camila Linneman. Elsha recently wrote this piece, "7 Topics Students Should Cover When Talking to Family About Study Abroad," featured on the student section of Connecting Our World.

Our goal is to top 500 likes for the "Students Connecting Our World" community on Facebook by the end of 2011 – that's just 50 people for each week left in 2011. Can you help us spread the word? Here are some things you can do:

  1. Through your campus study abroad Facebook page, "like" "Students Connecting Our World" on Facebook. That way students who visit your Facebook page will see "Students Connecting Our World" featured there.
  2. Print and display our "Students Connecting Our World" flyer anywhere your students gather or meet up, especially those who are interested in studying abroad.
  3. Post a "Students Connecting Our World" web sticker on your institution's web page or blog.
  4. Tweet or otherwise share this blog post with colleagues and student groups.

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