The Department of Education named November 13-17 International Education Week with the theme “International Education is the Future.” This pivotal week is multi-faceted in its purpose and its benefits. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education, conveys that International Education Week is “a time to promote the benefits of international education and highlight U.S. government programs that expand access to global experiences.” The United States is growing increasingly diverse, so recognizing this week is crucial to prepare students for cross-cultural jobs and relationships they may build and to give them ample opportunity to become multilingual. Not only is our country becoming more diverse, but education and workplaces are becoming more interconnected globally. This means that students must understand cultural differences and celebrate diversity to compete for the best job opportunities.
International Education Week hits very close to home here at Cumberland University for a multitude of reasons. Cumberland has students representing forty-nine countries across the globe right here on campus. This ensures that students have the opportunity to engage with other cultures, languages, and thoughts without ever leaving the country. For the international students here on campus, it is a great way to get assimilated into society and cultures here in the United States. Cumberland’s pluralistic student body acts as a microcosm of International Education Week’s larger ideals; Miguel Cardona states that many of societies’ challenges have a “global reach,” and different perspectives will lead to deeper conversations and understanding of the world around us.
Faculty and staff at Cumberland University also exemplify why exactly international learning is so important. Dr. Mark Hanshaw, the university’s Associate Provost and General Counsel, has lived in or traveled to over eighty different countries. He has also led study-abroad programs in India, Nepal, Guatemala, Cambodia, Thailand, Turkey, and Greece. He shares that international education is something that he cares deeply about, saying, “Having led international study experiences in more than a dozen countries around the globe, I can say without hesitation that such programs change lives. Deep engagement with another global community or culture affects both the way that we see the world and the way we see ourselves and our place in the world. Such experiences are deeply empowering, and I am pleased to see our university expanding its efforts to make such opportunities available to more students.”
A group of Cumberland students led by Dr. Sean McDaniel, Assistant Professor of History, and Summer Vertrees, Assistant Professor of English, will experience international travel and cultural immersion in the very near future, with two study abroad trips coming up. The group will stop in Paris, France, and London, England this December. With plans to see Germany, Italy, and Sweden in May, the greater Cumberland community will continue to learn about and experience many other cultures, a huge step for them in their professional and personal lives.