Happy Global Engagement Day! Every year the Global Engagement fellows are expected to attend at least one panel during global engagement day (I went to one about surviving and succeeding as a freshman – I’ll write about it in a different post) and I decided to go to an additional panel that discussed the impact and benefits of an international education. I think everyone always focuses on how an international education benefits international students, but it also has a huge positive impact on the communities that they visit. Beyond the obvious exposure to other cultures, there’s a significant economic impact in the form of jobs created and revenue generated. I mean, think about it. If OU (for example) didn’t have an international student presence, we wouldn’t need International Student Services at all. We also wouldn’t need the OU Cousins program or the NISO program. I don’t know how many jobs those create, but I bet that it’s a fair few. Then, of course, there is the fact that these students are living in the United States, buying good and services here and contributing to the American economy.
I think it was definitely interesting to reframe this issue within the context of “how does this benefit us.” I wouldn’t normally advise that, because I personally feel that it is equally important, if not more so, to consider benefits to other people. But sometimes it’s important to remind people that this isn’t charity; it’s an opportunity that we can and should extend as often as possible to anyone who is interested.