Event to showcase global engagement opportunities

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Photo of the Great Wall of China.

Globalize any degree by gaining valuable cross-cultural experience.

KALAMAZOO—Students and others can learn how to globalize their degrees and advance the interpersonal skills most desired by many of today's employers by attending the Study and Intern Abroad Fair at Western Michigan University.

The free fair is set for noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Bernhard Center's East Ballroom on WMU's main campus. This annual event is open to the public and showcases the more than 70 programs WMU offers in 30-plus countries. It is being sponsored by the University's Haenicke Institute for Global Education.

Graduate and undergraduate students working toward degrees in any discipline, regardless of foreign language skills, are eligible to earn major and minor or general education and elective credits at WMU while exploring new cultures overseas.

Studying or interning abroad provides a bridge for students wishing to enhance their WMU degree with an international experience that will give them a competitive edge when seeking employment. In a recent survey of 100 human resource directors and CEOs conducted by the Institute of International Education, 97 percent of respondents agreed that candidates with international study or work experience will likely have the cross-cultural communication skills and cultural awareness necessary to succeed in today's globalized economy.

"Each year, the Study Abroad Fair enables more than 800 students and community members to explore the study abroad opportunities available to them worldwide," says Dr. Jane Blyth, WMU director of study abroad and global program development. "It is a popular event that has influenced many students to take a chance at embracing the rewards of embarking on a study abroad course. In fact, it is often the first step in a life-altering journey of exploration and discovery for many of our students."

Study and Intern Abroad Fair highlights

The fair offers attendees the opportunity to speak with WMU students who have studied and interned abroad, as well as WMU professors who coordinate programs and courses around the world. Additionally, study abroad specialists from WMU Study Abroad will be available to answer questions, along with representatives from non-WMU organizations providing more than 100 study and work programs conducted worldwide.

Prospective study abroad students will learn about completing internships with overseas companies and numerous academic and language-intensive programs, such as studying comparative health practices in the Netherlands, political science in South Africa and engineering in Spain as well as language programs in Chinese, French, German, Russian Spanish and Japanese. Many programs are taught in English.

More than 500 WMU students participate in study and work abroad programs each academic year. Nearly all types of student financial aid may be applied toward study abroad programs, including money received through the Kalamazoo Promise and Michigan Education Trust funds. Numerous scholarships are also available.

The 2012 Study and Intern Abroad Fair will feature an expanded venue to allow for more than 15 additional display tables, along with a free soft drink and slice of pizza.

As in past years, representatives from WMU's Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, Career and Student Employment Services, and Sindecuse Health Center will be at the fair to answer questions about traveling abroad.

In 2011, WMU students received nearly $500,000 from scholarships and grants specifically earmarked for study abroad. Of that amount, about $400,000 came from WMU sources, such as the President's Grant for Study Abroad program, a WMU endowment that offers grants of up to $10,000 to students who study a foreign language overseas, and the Dean's Scholarship for Summer Study Abroad.

For more information about the 2012 Study and Intern Abroad Fair, including registration details for program representatives and study abroad vendors, contact Katie Bolter, WMU study abroad fair coordinator, at study-abroad-outreach@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5890.