Beyond the Classroom

How internationalization creates a global culture of living and learning.
Photo: Unsplash
Phil Manzano

During his freshman year at the Georgia Institute of Technology, also known as Georgia Tech, Alex Berry remembers ducking into the bathroom, where he heard three different languages being spoken. He emerged and walked down the hall, only to hear conversations in three other languages.

“I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh my goodness,’” says Berry, who is from Albany, Georgia, a city of about 78,000 people located a three-hour drive from Georgia Tech’s campus in Atlanta. “Even if everyone is talking about the same thing, how they’re talking about it—be it the expressions they’re using, the languages they’re using—they’re all so extremely different. And for me, it made me so happy to be here, so excited, because Georgia Tech [has] kind of made the world very open.”

The rise in international students on U.S. campuses has been dramatic. International enrollments more than doubled from 2008 to 2016, from 179,000 students to 364,000, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data on visas. This increase has created complex dynamics between an institution’s financial needs, international diversity goals, and core mission to educate students.

For the last 10 to 15 years, educators have seen the growing international student presence at U.S. colleges and universities transform academic and student life in small and deep ways, with rich international programs and experiences abroad, but also, most fundamentally, at home. Examples from institutions across the country show the vital influence international students are

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