International Engagement: Boost Your Career, Spread Understanding

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International Education Week is a great opportunity to learn about the role of global experiences in a college education.

Nov. 16-20, 2015, has been declared International Education Week by the U.S. Departments of State and Education (UW Tacoma event information here). Especially in light of the recent events in France, this week is a good time to reflect on the important role global engagement can play in education.

Research shows that employers hire candidates with international engagement experiences more quickly, keep them longer and pay them better than those without that international exposure. Through the International Programs office, UW Tacoma students can take advantage of Global Impact Internships, study abroad (access to both UW Tacoma and UW Seattle study-abroad experiences) and the Peace Corps Prep Program.

Through the Institute for Global Engagement, students can learn about research and experiential learning opportunities, the minor in global engagement and the university’s global honors program.

UW Tacoma currently enrolls 310 international students from 33 different countries. Current students are invited to participate in the International Peer to Peer Partners Program (IP3) to be matched with new international students for mutually-beneficial cross-cultural experiences.

Two UW Tacoma students provide reflections on their recent studies abroad.

Multinational mornings

Alex Ekstrom, Psychology, Senior, Global Honors

"Fourteen students from the University of Washington went on a 10-day journey to Rome in March 2015. Professor Shawn Wong led us on expeditions to meaningful sites in the ancient city. His wife Erin and son Peter accompanied us students on the learning experience and contributed by sharing their knowledge and favorite sites. The day after we landed was a Tuesday, also St. Patrick day, when we began exploring the ancient churches, buildings, and customs of the people.

"I took a long gaze at the crowd in the Campo de’ Fiori every morning. We lived on the east side of the square in the UW Rome Center at Palazzo Pio, above a restaurant, bookstore, and gelato allowing us the opportunity to greet and meet locals and foreigners once we stepped outside. The market opened around eight, and it closed around five. Cooking in the evening or finding a restaurant, of which there were thousands, was the choice we had. We experienced fine food, and meet up with UW faculty from the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMA/D). I also attempted to cook, but Tien, another student from UW Tacoma, was much more successful at it. Our time was spent reflecting on our experience (writing tankas) and exploring."

Something Magical Happens

Charles Messinger, Psychology, Senior, Global Honors

"This summer I traveled to Vienna, Munich, and Prague as part of the Exploring Psychology study-abroad program. This was my first opportunity to travel overseas and I know that many students on campus have not had the opportunity to do so. To step up on a soapbox and shout my message to the world: every student should study abroad. Something magical happens when you are removed from your comfort zone and go to a place you have only read about. You can and will likely leave behind your old self and send back a reinvigorated self to continue education.

"In my case I left for Austria with an intense focus to become a clinical psychologist with a comfortable practice in a small town. I returned with a renewed passion to serve the world without personal or geographic limitations. I am now pursuing graduate opportunities that will allow me to serve communities rather than individuals. My involvement in the Global Honors program at UWT helped open my eyes to global need but the study abroad experience catapulted me towards an unexpected personal evolution."

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / November 17, 2015
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or