Je’Rel Smith, a junior at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), is one step closer to his dream: a spring break trip to Brazil.
Smith, a mass communications and marketing major from Lexington, benefited from a program from the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), which provided U.S. passport applications fees for 100 WSSU students.
“Passports are expensive. Many students just can’t afford it,” Smith says.
Checks to cover the cost of passport applications were distributed to students by CIEE as part of its Passport Caravan initiative on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The campus sponsors for the event were the Office of International Programs and the WSSU Passport Acceptance Agency.
“For students to remain competitive in the world today, it’s important for them to have a global perspective. The opportunity to study abroad is an important way for students to gain this perspective,” says Joti Sekhon, director of international programs at WSSU. “Coming up with the money to pay for a U.S. passport can be a barrier for many of our students. We appreciate CIEE’s support for WSSU’s students, helping to remove this initial barrier.”
As part of the event, CIEE also offered information about study abroad opportunities and provided scholarships for passport recipients who study abroad on a CIEE program.
This event is part of CIEE’s support of Generation Study Abroad, an initiative to make study abroad possible for more U.S. students by breaking down the three major barriers to study abroad: cost, curriculum and culture. Over the next five years, CIEE is sponsoring passports for 10,000 students around the country, providing $20 million in scholarships and making an annual grant to college faculty to support innovative approaches for custom study abroad programs. The goal of Generation Study Abroad is to double the number of American students who study abroad by 2020.
All WSSU freshmen through juniors who were requesting a passport for the first time were eligible.
Over the past five years, there has been a 40 percent increase in the number of WSSU students studying abroad. The top emerging destinations are Brazil, Kenya and China. As part of the new WSSU five-year Strategic Plan, a priority is to develop signature international education programs and partnerships centering on Africa, the Americas and Asia, with a focus on developing programs in Cuba, the Caribbean, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa in addition to expanding existing programs.
WSSU offers a number of resources for students who desire to study abroad, including:
- A dedicated Office of International Programs (OIP)
- Summer and semester exchange programs
- Faculty-led programs
- Financial aid
Nationwide, only about 1 percent of all students enrolled in higher-education study abroad, according the Institute of International Education (IIE). African Americans are underrepresented, constituting only about 5 percent of the students who study abroad.
Smith, who has traveled as far as California, says studying abroad will make him more marketable to potential employers when he graduates.
“This will definitely help me stand out amongst my peers,” he says.
About Winston-Salem State University
Winston Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.
About CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange
Founded in 1947, CIEE is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization, serving more than 300 U.S. colleges and universities, 1,000 U.S. high schools, and more than 35,000 international exchange students each year. CIEE operates 61 study centers in 43 countries, sponsors international faculty training programs, teach abroad programs, and various specialty and custom programs for secondary, post-secondary, and international students. Several WSSU faculty members have participated in CIEE faculty development seminars in order to infuse a global dimension in the curriculum.