Lehman College Opening Young Eyes to New Cultures: Initiative Will Encourage Study Abroad

Few opportunities open a student’s eyes to new cultures and new ideas like studying in a faraway country. Lehman College is one of 150 higher education institutions in 41 states to join the Institute of International Education (IIE)’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, a five-year program aimed at increasing the number of undergraduates who travel abroad for study.

According to IIE’s Open Door Report on International and Educational Exchange, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career. In 2011-12, only 295,000 students studied abroad in credit-bearing and non-credit programs.

At Lehman, some 45 to 50 students participate in an international experience through the College’s Study Abroad Program each year. The goal is to double that number by the end of the five-year initiative. In the coming weeks and months, the College will devise new strategies to attract students to the program, including the addition of a “study abroad” category under scholarships for donor contributions.

Amanda Saviñon (above) traveled to Chile to study human rights issues.

“In addition to expanding international programs and global partnerships, Lehman is committed to ensuring that study abroad opportunities are available and that resources are accessible to students who wish to add an international experience to meet their educational and career goals,” says Dr. Marzie Jafari, Lehman College Vice President for Workforce and Global Partnerships.

This study abroad initiative marks the second collaboration between the College and IIE: this past fall, thanks to IIE and its work with the Brazilian government’s Scientific Mobility Program, the College welcomed six undergraduate students from Brazil. The program is an ambitious project by the Brazilian government designed to identify and sponsor individuals for STEM study opportunities abroad.

Dr. Jafari and Dr. Anny Morrobel-Sosa, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, will travel to Brazil later this month to take part in IIE’s weeklong International Academic Partnership Program Brazil Study Tour. They will join other college and university representatives for an overview of Brazil’s higher education goals and initiatives and best practices for engagement within those models.

“Facilitated by our partnership with IIE, this visit will provide us with a more personal occasion to learn about the higher education systems in Brazil and about their needs and expectations for the educational attainment of its diverse citizenry as we seek to expand the global learning opportunities for our own students,” says Dr. Morrobel-Sosa.

Through Lehman’s Study Abroad Program, students have studied in England, Greece, Russia, Italy, France, Spain, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Chile, and other places around the world.

Professor Lynne Van Voorhis, who oversees the Study Abroad Program, says that students who travel early in their studies are more likely to participate in another program overseas during their undergraduate studies. “Going global enriches all of us by broadening our horizons and deepening our understanding of our roles in our ever-more connected world,” said Professor Van Voorhis.