The decision to study abroad can be a stressful one for many students. There are a variety of factors that go into the decision including costs, safety of locations and quality of programs. The CAFNR Study Abroad office works to make that decision a little easier during International Education Week by using that time to spread the word about its various programs.
Held each year over the week preceding Thanksgiving, International Education Week is an event created to help increase interest among college-aged students about the opportunities available to obtain an international education. At the University of Missouri, the week varies by department. For CAFNR, it is an event that is already, in just its second year, hosting nearly 150 participants interested in learning more about the international education experience.
“The goal of International Education Week is for students to learn more about other countries of interest and for us, specifically to get students interested in study abroad,” said Shanon Dickerson, director of CAFNR study abroad.
Throughout the week, a variety of events are planned by past study abroad participants. This year, the events ranged from an international trivia contest hosted at the Heidelberg to an informative session with booths showcasing the various types of programs offered by CAFNR. After visiting each booth to get their passport “stamped,” students were rewarded with a free walking taco. The food was provided as an incentive to increase student attendance.
“It’s fun to brainstorm ideas about the week itself and to try to get in the minds of students to see what’s going to convince them to come,” said Taylor Hord, International Education Week committee chair. “Obviously, free food is going to convince them most of the time.”
During the scheduled events, students also had the opportunity to talk with former study abroad participants about the experience. Providing this time was a priority for the committee because often students avoid studying abroad due to financial worries or other concerns. Providing the space for them to feel comfortable discussing the details and asking questions directly to students who have been in their shoes was an important component of the week. Plus, the committee members and student volunteers enjoyed getting to reminisce about their own experiences with study abroad and provide them with helpful tips, tricks and advice, Dickerson said.
“One of my favorite parts was interacting with the students and seeing their faces,” Hord said. “It was fun just talking about study abroad and getting excited about that with them.
Overall, International Education Week allowed many CAFNR students to get their first exposure to the study abroad program. It is the hope of the committee that this first interaction will lead those students to a future study abroad trip and an expansion in the students’ international education.