Hopefully the title was able to grab your attention! In Japanese this translates to “what’s next?”. I’m sure everyone can agree, study abroad is a life changing experience. So it is important that we ask ourselves what do we do with the new insight gained from it. In this blog I will attempt to answer the question in the title above by outlining some of the things I have done. In particular I will be focusing on giving back after your study abroad program.
Excuse me for not introducing myself earlier! My name is Cameron. I am a nurse and current Gilman Alumni Ambassador. Thanks to the Gilman Scholarship, I was able to study abroad in Japan in 2013. During my time there I learned a lot and grew as a human. From that experience, my views on diplomacy and cultural sensitivity bloomed. I credit this to my family and friends I gained during my time in Japan. In life I believe selfless giving is a vital principle to follow by. So upon my return to America, I looked for ways to give back beyond my service project and teach others the lessons I learned during my time abroad.
The easiest thing I did to promote the ideas of diplomacy and cultural sensitivity were through outreach events that the Gilman program offered me. These outreach events were valuable moments I used to not only teach the lessons I learned, but promote study abroad. That being said, please keep in touch with Gilman after your study abroad program! There may be events that you will be asked to participate in. There is also an opportunity to become a Gilman Alumni Ambassador. Therefore I also encourage those to apply for this position next year if you would like to do more. Not only is this a great way to give back, but a chance to network and learn about more opportunities.
Becoming a host family is another way you can give back and promote diplomacy. Fortunately there was a hosting program for Japanese students already set up at my home university. Every year after my time Japan, I have hosted a foreign exchange student. This is a beautiful way to advocate international relations, learn more about the culture of your student, and most importantly make a new friend. When I went back to Japan on my own, I actually found myself being hosted by some of the students that stayed with me!
Mentoring is also an excellent way to help others. A couple of times throughout the years, I have taken time to mentor students. I always highlight study abroad because of how it can impact their lives in a positive way. The student I’m currently mentoring did not even consider studying abroad for a multitude of reasons. Now they want to participate in a program next summer! The best place to start finding mentoring opportunities are with your study abroad office or by talking with student organizations within your college.
Hopefully I have provided some ideas on how to assist others after your study abroad program. However this is only part of the answer to “what’s next”. There are ways study abroad can help you in an interview setting, career choice, and other facets of your life. So if there is any way I can assist you as a Gilman Alumni Ambassador in learning more about these areas, please feel free to contact me!