Op-Ed by Ambassador Linda Taglialatela, US Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS
As we celebrate International Education Week, I would like to highlight the many benefits an international education has to offer.
Through increasingly globalised classrooms and international exchange, students experience new perspectives, work with diverse peers, and communicate across cultures and languages. In a 2017 survey by the Institute of International Education, 78% of respondents said that their previous study abroad experience helped them get their current job.
American and Caribbean students both enjoy opportunities at each country’s campuses. Last June, I joined a group of six Americans from Indiana University who attended the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus to discuss advanced theories of global human resource management with their Barbadian counterparts. For the past two years, these two universities have jointly organised this summer course to share best practices and increase mutual understanding.
Often, international alumni are the catalysts for these types of initiatives. Prime Minister of Grenada Dr The Right Honorable Keith Mitchell, who received a Masters degree from Howard University and a Doctorate from American University, also taught mathematics as a professor at Howard. Dr Cardinal Warde, a Barbadian who attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1980s and now teaches there, has set up Computer Coding Workshops in the Caribbean to inspire young people to study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). They are but a few examples of an international alumni network that ties our countries together.
Parents across the region should consider the opportunities that international education offers. Studying abroad in the United States is well worth the investment for your children. Fourteen of the top 20 best universities in the world are in the United States, with more than 4,700 accredited schools in all. More than one million international students from around the world study in the United States each year. They pursue four-year degrees, two-year degrees, or complete short-term programmes.
Students feel at home in the United States. Two of the cities with the largest Caribbean diaspora are New York and Miami, and many educational institutions in and around those cities host Caribbean students. However, I am equally excited to hear about students’ experiences in Oklahoma or Montana, for example, and the stories they tell of their schools, communities, and representing their country in an environment that is sometimes less familiar with their culture.
American universities work closely with the private sector to adapt their curriculum to the needs of a modern economy and provide the most advanced and practical preparation for opportunities in a global world. US institutions also partner with civil society organisations and the public sector to prepare graduates for onward placement. The networks go further, into academia in and outside the United States, multiplying the number of avenues available to the newly graduated international student.
Finally, and not least important, the United States and our Caribbean partners share a commitment to an education system that respects and encourages independent thought. On any US campus, a student can choose from hundreds of activities, from sports teams, debate groups, and dance troupes to diverse political and religious associations. They can engage in frank and honest dialogue. Both inside and outside the classroom, students can challenge and be challenged without concern of government persecution, interference, or censorship.
Studying in the United States is an incredible opportunity that will open doors and unlock your child’s potential. If you are interested, talk to our EducationUSA advisors. These dedicated individuals help parents and students across the region search for the perfect university to match their interests and work to identify scholarship opportunities – all for free!
If you would like to make an appointment, please email BridgetownIRC@state.gov, and visit bb.usembassy.gov. There’s a good chance the advisor is located at your public library or community college. I encourage you to pay them a visit.
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