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And analysis by the SAGE Research Project of 6,000 alumni over 50 years demonstrates that study abroad has a substantial long-term impact on individuals’ career paths and global engagement. Those are valuable skills in almost all of the most rapidly expanding sectors of our economy.
Most often, they explained, being offered the opportunity to host American students is posed as a boon, or at the very least, a win-win, by international agencies and universities.
The complexity is flattened out to what essentially amounts to free labor.
It is not uncommon for us to see our learning as something that we, alone, manifest; this one-sided point of view is strengthened by the language of our most elite institutions, where college students have a “shopping period” during which they decide which classes they want to take.
Learning, rather than being an exchange, becomes an act of consumption.
Studying and working abroad is, in a sense, a perpetual schema buster, an endless opportunity for the kind of disequilibrium that leads to wisdom.
These experiences make us better students, better leaders, better citizens. An assessment by the University of Georgia found that students who studied abroad had a 17.8 percent higher 4-year graduation rate than those who didn’t.
It’s not that there’s anything particularly pernicious about the question; the problem lies in the assumption that marginalized people are always at the ready to enlighten the privileged. If you ask a contemporary global development leader to pinpoint the genesis of her work, she will often get misty-eyed talking about a deeply formative year in her 20s when she was a “fish out of water” somewhere in the Global South.
It’s where so many learn about the limitations and occasional gifts of being an outsider.
It’s where they are often first introduced to a profoundly new culture.
It’s where, best case scenario, they get a hands-on experience that complicates their ideas about “saving the world.”Famed educator Jean Piaget argued that leaps in learning happen when we encounter new information that doesn’t fit into our previously held worldview — what he called a .