Rio Grande, Ohio – Students from the University of Rio Grande’s International Office traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in Advocacy Day, an event hosted by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The two-day conference allows representatives from colleges across the country to visit Washington and meet with their senators and representatives talk about the value of international education, global engagement on college campuses and relevant legislation. Abby Conder of Rio’s International Programs Office and students Stephen McCormick, Cydnie Few and Jeremy de Hoog, represented Rio for the conference. Conder said she and the students attended Advocacy Day because international learning opportunities are a significant factor in providing quality education.
“International students are important to our campus, our community, our economy and our nation as a whole. They bring globalization to us and to those who may not have the means to travel on their own. Bringing international students to our campus helps people understand the world around them,” Conder said. “We want to encourage students to study abroad as well. Students who go abroad get first-hand experience of other cultures and gain valuable work experience. So many employers are looking for candidates with an international background and understanding of the global world. Encouraging study abroad gives those students that competitive edge in their fields, therefore creating more American jobs. I’m very proud of our students who attended this conference. I’m so glad they could have these thoughtful, open-minded conversations with our representation on Capitol Hill.”
NAFSA is an organization dedicated to connecting students, scholars and citizens around the world and providing opportunities for international education in a globalized America. McCormick, a senior Hispanic studies major from Gallipolis and president of Rio’s International Club, said he enjoyed discussing his own study abroad experience in Mexico this past fall and its value with the state’s legislators.
“This was an amazing experience, and I feel like it’s one of the most important things I have ever been able to do. As a former study abroad student, I can relate with many of the topics and issues discussed at Advocacy Day,” McCormick said. “I am thankful we could have this dialogue with our legislators and talk about these issues based on our own experiences. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to study abroad through Rio and hope more students can have these kinds of opportunities.”
In addition to the new Chinese exchange program, Rio has offered students a chance to study abroad at Trinity St. David University in Wales through the Madog Center for Welsh Studies for several years. The program allows students an affordable experience to learn more about their field on a global scale. Few, a junior early education major from Cincinnati, has spent a semester in Wales. She said she believes students from across the country and the world need to take their own opportunities to study abroad and experience a different culture.
“It is important to realize that every student deserves the chance to live in any part of the world and to experience it through travel,” Few said. “Taking this journey to Washington opened my eyes through other people’s experience and advocating for something I strongly stand behind as a previous study abroad student and a soon to be teacher.”
Rio’s students met with the offices of Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and district Representative Bill Johnson during Advocacy Day. de Hoog, a senior business major, is an international student at Rio from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He said it was exciting to experience Advocacy Day as a student from abroad.
“As soon as we sat down at the Ohio table with our peers at the NAFSA Advocacy Day Conference to represent Rio, I realized this would be something special. I can definitely look back at this opportunity as one of the highlights in my college career as international student in the United States,” de Hoog said. “While I graduate in May, I am happy to have shared my voice on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. which I hope contributes to the opportunity for many more generations of international students to get a degree from an institution in the USA.”
Anyone interested in more information about study abroad opportunities and International Programs at Rio can contact Abby Conder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-245-7115.