Exchange programs for high school students to study abroad on scholarships through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs prepare young Americans for life and work in our global economy, where modern technology now connects ideas and businesses and people from across the ocean with the click of a button.
Furthermore, these cultural exchanges provide the next generation of leaders with opportunities to meet and connect with students like them from around the world.
"Our future depends on connections...among young people like you across the globe," said First Lady Michelle Obama to Peking University students during her visit to China last March.
Obama added that study abroad programs were "a vital part of America's foreign policy" because relationships between nations are also "about relationships between people, particularly young people."
To help forge these relationships, President Barack Obama launched the 100,000 Strong China Initiative in 2009 to invest in US-China relations "one student at a time;" and 100,000 Strong in the Americas in 2011 "to foster region-wide prosperity through greater international exchange of students" in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Students don't need to have plans for a career in the international realm to be wonderful candidates for an exchange program; they just need to be open to learning about and understanding other cultures. Some of the many benefits include travel, leadership opportunities, learning a new language, personal development, self-understanding and the chance to have a positive impact on the lives of the people you meet.
To find out more, listen to the State Department webinar "What are the Real Benefits of Studying Abroad in High School?" on Thursday, May 29th at 3:15 p.m. EST