In the past few years some friends have asked me if I have become pessimistic about the state of the world, education, and the United States. I usually keep a positive outlook on things and try take a long view of history – after all, I’ve watched the birth of the internet, a dot-com boom (and bust), the rise of globalization and emergence of biotechnology – all in my recent memory!
However, as we enter 2009, I’m especially optimistic about the coming year. I’m optimistic because beneath all the pessimistic noise in the media there continue to be exciting trends in society. Since this blog is about international education – a major reason to be optimistic is the fact that study abroad in the United States continues to increase.
The results of the annual Open Doors survey of study abroad was published in November, and the decade-long trend in the growing popularity of study abroad shows no sign of abating.
Even more exciting for me is that study abroad in “non-traditional” destinations (i.e. the places Global Leadership Adventures has programs) is also increasing. In other words, more students today are traveling to places like India, China, Brazil, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania than ever before. This validates my thinking when I decided that GLA would focus its programming on these emerging economies. Students understand that there is a new multi-polar world order emerging and its crucial to understand these various loci of power and influence in the world if one wants to work on the global stage. And since almost all jobs today cross borders, it can be argued that every student should study abroad in order to be considered prepared to graduate.
In spite of the economic crisis (and the upcoming related geo-political crisis), I’m excited to keep watching the world become more global and be part of student’s education of this world. I still can’t believe how much innovation has come to the world in the past 15 years – and I’m sitting at the edge of my chair to see what the next 15 years brings.