Bringing The World Home: From Study Abroad to Social Action

A very suitable topic for AIESEC 😉

Young people today are studying and volunteering abroad in record numbers and learning firsthand about the opportunities and challenges of an interconnected world. These young people return home from their experiences abroad with a keen understanding of other cultures and an awareness of how to find common ground across differences. But when they return to their home community, they often find themselves plagued by the questions: What am I going to do with this understanding? How can I turn my experience into positive change?

The need for young Americans and Europeans who have traveled abroad to “bring the world home” could not be more urgent. Global challenges from terrorism to climate change dominate the U.S. and European political discourse and these challenges require global solutions. Yet, most Americans have little chance to connect with the world out there.

Moreover, the local television news, which is where six in ten Americans get most of their news about international affairs, does not offer Americans a vision of a world in which the United States can play a productive role. Rather, it presents a vision of “global mayhem,” in which the world’s problems appear intractable despite the best efforts of the U.S. This leads Americans to sometimes be skeptical of supporting international institutions despite recognizing the importance of cooperative solutions to global problems.

But if Americans can step beyond the “global mayhem” mindset and see the world differently, as an interconnected globe, research documented by the U.S. in the World guide indicates that they become more supportive of a cooperative U.S. engagement with the world. Young people who have been abroad and have a vocabulary of interconnectedness would seem an ideal group to “bring the world home” and showcase the positive opportunities for the U.S. to contribute to the world.

The question is how to effectively channel the insights and energy of young people with international experiences into awareness-raising and social change events here at home.

This Thursday, World Learning’s School for International Training, Americans for Informed Democracy, and LaGuardia Community College will be hosting a special conference on transforming international experience into social change. We hope you’ll participate in this online discussion which is taking place in concert with the conference.

• How has walking across differences made you more open to addressing the world’s problems?

• Why is international experience such a motivating factor in working towards global change?

Contribute to the discussion at:

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