International Education is More than Programs

When attending a musical in Austin, Texas, recently, the usher handed me a program. And some programs on television last less than an hour when you count the commercial interruptions. Many colleges and Universities advertise programs. All of these have at least two things in common: 1) they don’t last, 2) they are not meant to last.

This is why I don’t want to have students or faculty or parents see study abroad through the lens of programs only. I want to suggest that it’s the wrong ‘p’ word. Instead, there are at least three other ways to see study abroad and the view through them is much more interesting.

 

Pathway

An international experience is a decidedly colorful, meaningful, and robust marker on one’s journey, so it’s part of a pathway.

Where will you go this Year?

In Elton Trueblood's book entitled Lessons in Spiritual Leadership, he notes that Abraham Lincoln's leadership was influenced not only by a growing self-awareness and events of real suffering, but he was also influenced by Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Washington D.C.

In 2015, I found myself in: New York, Italy, East Africa, the Netherlands, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Washington D.C. and a host of other spots. And my worldview is impacted at various points along the way. Now, if you believe a worldview is simply a stoic framework, then you probably have a bit of trouble with the idea that a sense of place can impact one's own awareness. Yet, I dare say that we are all influenced by and influencers of the places we find ourselves in.

How you influence those places that you pass through and how those same places influence you matter.

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Rantoul, Illinois

Ok, it's been a while and you can track my progress at www.bomwhite.com

With that said, here's the new focus on this site and let's call it 'Stories can Walk'....I am asking you to journey with me to simply pay attention and find one thing in each of your own travels to hang on to. One thing. Don't try to remember everything, recount every detail of your travels, but just one thing to remember each new city, each new neighborhood. So, here goes:

Rantoul, Illinois, is less than an hour from where I live. It's a declining city in some respects, a victim of higher than normal unemployment and the closing of some factories. It's also home to the Chanute Air Force Base or the Chanute Air Museum, which is on the campus that was formerly an active air force base. Having helped with my daughter's recent field trip there my goal was to pay attention. I have recently been to Spain, Wales, England, and Ireland on work related trips and also returned from Chicago and Boston within the last few weeks, but none of the aforementioned sites moved me to tears. But, something at Chanute did.

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Traveling This Summer? It Ain’t About the Boardwalk Fries

Here's a repost . . . seems timely in June when so many are heading across new landscapes. 

Pilgrimages have a long history. And it’s not always about reflection and solitude. When Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims went to visit the tomb of the slain archbishop, I’m sure someone in the group stopped along the way to buy a refrigerator magnet with the words I CANTERED TO CANTERBURY.

I’ve been on an extended vacation three thousand miles from home, and I’ve learned that tourists come in all persuasions. At Mount Vernon, we met a junior high school group taking a whirlwind tour of the East Coast. While one young man was finding himself enlightened by the history of his forefathers, another was trying to poke chewing gum through the cracks in Washington’s livery stable for the hell of it. Go figure. Traveling for some is a chance to embrace self-discovery and for others, it’s a chance to be familiarly stupid in a beautiful new location.

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Do you have Cultural Intelligence?

Let me play my cards up front with you, there are a host of 'intelligence' quotients today. I have read books in the past year that deal with our relational intelligence, our right brain, left brain, and our central intelligence (agency that is), but I do believe that one of the more pressing concerns in our globalizing world is whether or not we are culturally intelligent. For some people, being culturally intelligent will be based more on information than experience. Others of you will have traveled widely and therefore, you will have your own perspective. All of us need to understand that neither our culture nor our view of culture is necessarily at the center of anything (other than our own minds).
 
Author and Scholar David Livermore introduces his book on the subject in this short clip.
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Thankful for Airports

On Wednesday I will be traveling to to Kansas City for Thanksgiving. I’ll be flying out of John Wayne airport in Orange County, and I’m sure it will be a hassle to wait in security lines. I’m sure it will feel invasive and unnecessary to stand in the nude scanner or get padded down, “Don’t touch my junk” style. I’m sure the whole rigmarole of flying on the busiest travel day of the year will be somewhat painful. But I really don’t want to complain.

Rather than lamenting the difficulties and inconveniences of flying these days, I want to give thanks for the amazing fact that I can fly home, that planes and airports even exist to transport us in three hours distances that used to take three months to traverse. What a gift! How lucky are we? We don’t deserve airplanes.

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Some Post-Travel Thoughts

We walked on and circled the island. The river was dark and
a bateau mouche went by, all bright with lights, going fast amid
quiet up and out of sight under the bridge. Down the river was
Notre Dame squatting against the night sky. We crossed to the
left bank of the Seine by the wooden foot-bridge from the Quai de
Bethune, and stopped on the bridge and looked down the river at
Notre Dame. Standing on the bridge the island looked dark, the
houses were high against the sky, and the trees were shadows.

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5 Minutes in Congo

There are two countries in Africa named Congo. One is the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) and the other is the Republic of Congo. To distinguish between the two, people generally refer to the former as DR Congo and the latter by the name of its capital, Brazzaville.

On my recent visit to DR Congo, we also scheduled a trip to Congo Brazzaville in order to assist with some of the necessary planning with setting up a new microfinance institution there. Both Congos are desperately poor and HOPE International will be launching a new program in Brazzaville in the near future to meet the unmet demand for financial services there. My assessment is that there will be some challenges (but a forthcoming post will show how to overcome those challenges).

The Congos are separated by the Congo River. It’s quite a large river, about three miles wide at the point where the capital cities lie.
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