Last week, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, urged the 2010 graduating class of George Washington University to “take it global.” Yesterday, during an address she gave at a forum at Wayne State University in Michigan, she encouraged students to take a global perspective. She said,
As you push forward with your education, both inside and outside of the classroom, I want you all to consider this. Consider the wider world out there, too. We live in a world. And think about how you can engage broadly with other people and other cultures around the world, embracing your place as part of a big, powerful, young, global generation.
The First Lady said that her one regret from her youth was that she didn’t take advantage of opportunities to travel, study, or volunteer abroad, and encouraged students not to make that same mistake. She said,
if the opportunity ever arises for any of you to participate in exchange programs, a study abroad program, maybe even travel abroad, volunteer for a short time… I would urge you to try to do that. It’ll advance your education; it will expand your sense of possibilities; and it will make you more competitive for the jobs of the future.
Bringing in tones from the President’s remarks in Cairo last summer, she also reminded students that it’s these types of global connections that break down barriers. Mrs. Obama said,
it’s times like these that require us to put our differences aside, and focus on what we have in common -- things like pride in where we live. So we’re looking to you. We’re looking to your idealism, your optimism, your willingness to look at things in a new and fresh way. We need you to rebuild those bridges, to restore that understanding, to renew that trust -- not just here in America but around the world.
It is so good to hear the Administration focus on international education, and not only what it can do for students at home, but also the impact it can have around the world. Every day, NAFSA and its members focus on what we can do to make the world a better place through international education. Today, I encourage you to make a connection as well by sharing the great work that you’re doing with the President and his Administration.
Earlier this week, NAFSA launched a new online grassroots advocacy center, “Connecting Our World,” to support exactly the types of efforts the First Lady talked about in her two commencement speeches, AND as the name would suggest, to connect our world. NAFSA believes it is these global connections that bring the world together and make it a better place for all. I encourage you to use this tool to share with the administration the work that you’re doing to make this world a better place through international education. Please take a moment today to thank the President for recognizing the power of exchanges in building a better future, and encourage him to do more by including the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program as part of his plan to provide quality educational opportunities to all Americans and to build stronger connections of young people around the world.