Share your storyI caught up with Mitch Smith (a native of Overland Park, Kansas and currently a journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) at NAFSA’s 2010 Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. As this year’s winner of New York Times columnist Nick Kristof’s Win-A-Trip contest, Mitch traveled with Kristof to Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa in May 2010.

The trip was Mitch’s first time out of the country and it forever changed his perspectives on the world. He told me that he thinks it’s very important for students to get out of their comfort zone and experience the world first-hand. He also said, "Students need to have the opportunity to go abroad and to see different cultures so that when they’re working in the United States, they can do so with a genuinely global perspective."

You can watch my video of Mitch below to hear one of his stories about the Congo, and you can read plenty more in his posts for The New York Times. But you don’t have to win a contest with The New York Times to be able to share your insights on the power of cross-cultural experiences and international education – tell your story today on Connecting Our World, NAFSA’s interactive grassroots advocacy Web site.

We already have some great stories on Connecting Our World, but I want to see yours! Personal stories bring to life the real-world value of international education. Storytelling also plays a big role in helping us drive the national debate on issues and educating our government on the value of international education. Plus, if you share your story before September 1, you will have a chance at being one of two featured stories on the NAFSA blog later in September.

Everyone has a story, why not share yours?