JJC Commits to Increase Number of Students Studying Abroad by Joining “Generation Study Abroad” Initiative

International education has been a critical component at Joliet Junior College for more than two decades, and this year the college is taking its commitment even further by joining Generation Study Abroad, an initiative from the Institute of International Education (IIE) that brings leaders in education, business and governments together to double the number of U.S. college students studying abroad by the end of the decade.

JJC is one of more than 150 higher education partners that have committed to reaching the ambitious goal of thousands more American students graduating with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world. 

The college already offers a robust study abroad program for students, with summer and full semester opportunities available in Matsuyama, Japan; Seville, Spain; San Jose, Costa Rica; Dijon, France; Salzburg, Austria; Xi’an, China; Canterbury, England; Carlow, Ireland; and Salzburg, Austria. Additional destinations are frequently added.

Not only do these study abroad opportunities provide life-changing experiences for students to travel the world, they are part of a larger mission at JJC. President Dr. Debra Daniels has made it a goal for the college to become a world-class institution, and expanding and broadening international study opportunities is one of the ways the college is pursing that goal.

“We live in a global society today, and an understanding of different cultures is essential to a college education,” said Daniels.

According to JJC Coordinator of International Education Tamara Brattoli, approximately 10-12 JJC students take advantage of study abroad opportunities each year.

“There are a couple of reasons studying abroad is great for students – one is that with the globalization that we have right now, students learn practical skills like how to work with people who come from different cultures and backgrounds,” Brattoli said. “Language skills are another. The federal government is pushing a lot for students to learn more languages.”

JJC students can not only earn credit hours during their study abroad trips, but they may also be able to use financial aid and scholarships to help pay for the trip. While some students may be daunted by the price of a semester abroad, the cost is often comparable, if not less than, what some would spend on tuition, transportation, lodging and food during a typical semester at JJC. And a semester in China, for example, at approximately $5,500 including tuition, airfare, lodging, in-country travel, and insurance, is significantly cheaper than a comparable experience as a vacationer.

However, students aren’t the only ones at  JJC who study abroad. Faculty and staff have participated in Department of Education Title VI grant-funded trips to build relationships with international universities and bring international curriculum back to JJC classrooms. These trips have allowed the college to establish relationships with universities in Jordan, China, Japan and India.

Additionally, JJC not only has an international education program that includes language courses on Arabic, Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish and Portuguese to name a few, the college also created an international student services coordinator position in 2013 to recruit and retain international students at JJC.

IIE is launching Generation Study Abroad because the number and proportion of today’s students who graduate with an educational experience abroad is far too low. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career.

According to the Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange released by IIE last November with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 295,000 students studied abroad in 2011/12 in credit-bearing and non-credit programs. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow participation in study abroad so that the annual total reported will reach 600,000 by the end of the decade.  

“Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise,” says Dr. Allan Goodman, President of IIE. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”

To learn more about how to sign up for study abroad opportunities at JJC, contact Tamara Bratolli at tbrattol@jjc.edu or 815-280-2470, or visit http://www.jjc.edu/ACADEMICS/DIVISIONS/ARTS-SCIENCES/ENGLISH-WORLD-LANG/INTERNATIONAL-EDUCATION/Pages/study-abroad.aspx

To learn more about Generation Study Abroad, visit www.iie.org/generationstudyabroad.  


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