Passport to Learning

three students travel at sunset
By Carolyn Shea

Eager to expand their horizons, Evergreen students are spilling out of the classroom onto 
the streets of the world, from China to South Africa, Iceland to Brazil and destinations beyond. They are using the many overseas study opportunities offered by the college as a springboard to immersing themselves in other cultures and gaining firsthand experience that not only complements their academic coursework, but is also increasingly fundamental to their personal development as citizens of the world.

Evergreen has long embraced a commitment to promoting internationalization in its curriculum. As a major part of this effort, the college actively encourages students to study abroad, recognizing the value of gaining global perspectives, acquiring added cultural and language skills, studying unique phenomena, learning through service to communities in foreign countries, and bridging theory and reality. The college provides ample avenues for obtaining international experience: through coordinated study programs, consortium programs, or individual learning and internship contracts. It also supports students throughout the process with a dedicated International Programs and Services office, which provides guidance and information about all things travel-related, from planning a trip and applying for visas to dealing with emergencies and weathering reverse cultural shock when they return home.

Currently, eight percent of Evergreen’s student body opts to take advantage of study-abroad opportunities, a higher percentage than at any other four-year state institution of higher learning in Washington—higher even than the overall U.S. college population, which stands at about five percent. Last year, nearly 350 students journeyed to points around the globe in the pursuit of knowledge. Nearly half went with academic programs that had a foreign travel component, such as America Abroad, which covered American studies, literature, history, anthropology and international studies—then culminated in internships and independent research in more than a dozen countries, including Thailand, Guatemala and Oman.

Eric Stein, an anthropologist and an America Abroad faculty member, sees “study abroad as a meaningful way to question the core values that frame our own cultural perceptions, through face-to-face encounters with people living in other places that hold different cultural values. This may mean that one comes to realize, for example, the constraints—or benefits—of American individualism through living in places that emphasize communalism. It could also mean challenging our cultural perceptions of others and learning how to observe and recognize how others live, in their own terms.”

As the world’s people, nations and economies become more interconnected, international experience becomes more of an asset. For students, study abroad ranks among their best, most memorable and enriching experiences, shaped by new people, new explorations, and new knowledge that help open their eyes to new possibilities.

By The Numbers

Greeners Abroad

Evergreen programs that integrated studies abroad in 2007-086
Evergreen programs that integrated studies abroad in 2008-099
Students who participated in studies abroad in 2007-08345
Benjamin A. Gilman Study Abroad Scholarships awarded to Evergreen students in spring 200812
Gilman awards made nationally400
Total Gilman scholarship awards made to Evergreen students in Spring 2008$54,500
Students who undertake independent learning and internship contracts overseas150+
Service-oriented overseas internships in 2007-0875
Study-abroad partner programs and exchanges with which Evergreen cooperates17
International places and themes from which students can choose300+
Evergreen units involved in the Crisis Management Team for issues involving students, faculty and staff studying abroad8
Study-abroad information workshops offered on campus each year35