This story is featured in the upcoming Fall 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how studying abroad allows students to understand the concept of global citizenship.
High Point University’s educational model was built with this reality in mind: Students must be prepared for the world as it will be, not as it is, if they are to succeed in today’s rapidly changing workforce.
HPU’s Office of Global Education plays a crucial role in that mission. Je Palis, director of Global Education, is a product of studying and working abroad in Vienna, Austria, and serving as a Fulbright Scholar to Latvia, the country from which his grandfather’s family hails. Now, he’s helping HPU students discover the positive impact of living and learning from people different than oneself.
Q. One goal of HPU faculty and staff is to equip students with life skills. How does global education contribute to that?
A. Ask any hiring manager if they’re interested in candidates with global experiences, and many will tell you that it all starts with being able to figure things out when you’re in a new situation and there is no training manual. Our world has become more and more integrated. Our economies are connected; our cities and towns are connected. If you aren’t experienced in communicating, collaborating and negotiating with people from other cultures and languages, you may be left behind.
Q. What options do HPU students have to become globally educated?
A. We have two focuses when it comes to our students’ international experiences. The first is taking students to the world through our two-principle study abroad options: semester exchange and faculty-led Maymester programs. Through semester-long exchange programs, they spend the semester living and taking classes in a different country. Our most popular exchange programs are in Europe and Australia, but we also have tremendous options in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.
Another option is a short-term Global Experience program, commonly called “Maymesters.” Students take a spring course about a cultural issue, then travel to a country where they can watch theory and classroom concepts come to life. With their classmates and a faculty member serving as the expert guide, they dive deep to investigate their host country.
Through these programs, students learn how to use a new language, connect with new people and experience a way of life very different from their own.
Q. Regardless of a student’s major, what are common lessons they learn abroad?
A. Being abroad teaches you how to figure it out. You’re taking classes taught with different teaching styles. There’s new food, new public transportation systems and new living quarters. Our office supports students and makes sure they have a good experience, but we also know that learning begins where your comfort zone ends. We encourage students to step outside of their comfort zone and develop a growth mindset about thriving in a new place.
National studies show that students return with higher levels of self-confidence. They go on to have higher graduation rates and higher GPAs. And they know how to “figure it out.” Employers appreciate that.