During my time in community college and at the University at Albany, I have participated in several programs abroad. My initial trip was a summer semester in Paris where I learned about French Grammar and Global Society. I then visited central America to participate in a service-learning trip in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. 2018 brought me to Israel, where I learned about all aspects of Israeli culture, government, and military in a summer excursion. Finally, in Morocco, I took courses relating to language, globalization, and North African studies.
These experiences have been tremendously beneficial in my growth and development as a student. The advantages of international education are unparalleled. Seeking educational opportunities abroad strengthens your global awareness and social competence. Collectively, SUNY is home to 22,000 international students – and several thousand who represent our system abroad. I know first handedly that an international perspective is crucial in today’s expanding global world.
International Student outreach is instrumental to our progression as a student represented organization. Foreign exposure introduces us to new thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and interests. As a system, we must value the exposure to new cultures and
societies and seek different experiences to shape our overall perspective. I think my biggest takeaway is self-advocacy and privilege. Studying abroad has opened my eyes to new horizons, allowing me to look at the world differently.
One of my favorite moments was visiting the Sahara Desert. It was a place that I grew up hearing about. I saw numerous pictures – but I never imagined I would be able to see the desert in person. It was astonishing to be standing in a deserted, dry, wasteland– yet simultaneously it was peaceful and stunning. After spending a significant amount
of time in a new place, you grow to appreciate the deep history and culture.
As the world continues to become more accessible, we must ensure that students are utilizing the resources and opportunities available. It is my hope that moving forward, students in the State University of New York make that next step and expose themselves to the wonders of international education.
This current generation of students will soon be world leaders and it is our responsibility to not be passive, but to be active.
Written by Dylan Marshall, SUNY Student Assembly Vice Chair of International Students, University at Albany