“How do you know if your programs are successful?” A question often directed to me.
Previously, I’ve written about the unexpected outcomes of study abroad programs. Along the same lines, I would say that I would consider our programs a success if our alumni become “activated”. Whether our programs spark a student to learn a new language, pursue a new course of study, start a non-profit, fall in love with a country, or take up a cause. If we can facilitate a spark, an activating event, I think we’ve done well.
A spark in the teenage years can be especially powerful because high school students are still open to the possibilities that life holds before them. Whereas, my work with college students often found that they already knew (or thought they knew) what they were going to do in life and were simply looking for a way to reinforce what they already wanted to do.
One of the reasons I enjoy working with high school students is that they have not necessarily decided on which college to apply to, what to major in, or even thought about their own self-identity.