Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Perks of Going on Exchange

The Perks of Going on Exchange

The Perks of Going on Exchange

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 11:48 AM PDT

I would like to ask the First Lady Michelle Obama whether she's been on exchange herself and what she believes are the perks of going on exchange in this globalised world.

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St. Patricks!

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 08:31 AM PDT

I'm not an Irish, but this time in the year I feel so lucky to be around.

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Minority Study Abroad Students

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 06:54 AM PDT

As an African-American student studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, I realize that there are not enough American students who look like me overseas. I am curious if anything is being done to increase the number of minority students who study abroad.

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Posted: 16 Mar 2014 05:12 AM PDT

First Lady Obama: How can we encourage our children to further their education abroad or even attend a local university if we do not provide them with low interest rates on college loans?

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Protest in Iceland , march 15 in Reykjavik , Iceland

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 03:00 AM PDT

Still a protest meeting yesterday on saturday , march 15. in Reykjavik in front of the Parliament building .
People demanding that the Goverment keeps its promise on holding a national refferendum on talking to EU - on joining,
People are demanding that the Goverment keeps its promise , and let the the discussion with the EU , go to a national refferendum .
The protest peaceful , and as you can see , on the photos , that the Police was talking to protesters and all was very friendly .

There will also be a protest out this week and a big one on saturday

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Study Abroad for Peace

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 12:43 AM PDT

My question:


"I would like to ask our First Lady, Michelle Obama for her opinion regarding the importance of receiving an education abroad with the goals of gaining first-hand experience of different cultural values, customs, and world religions as a new commitment toward contributing to long-lasting peace between Nations."


I am very much in support of studying abroad, and it would be wonderful if it would be subsidized by the government as well. It not only offers young eager minds wonderful cultural experiences, but it also promotes friendship between people and even nations. As we learn about each other's cultures, customs, and religions, we leave behind old clich├ęs and our deep-seated beliefs about people and cultures in far-away places. We often make judgments about things that are strange to us and are not understandable because they are outside the comfortable box of our own experiences and traditions. To study within foreign countries can offer valuable first-hand experience which enriches not just our academic goals and curriculum but can also build lasting knowledge and valuable information in numerous areas of life.


Also, to learn a new language is an excellent opportunity and opens doors to new perspectives in every aspect of our lives. My dear mother used to say that we are as many people as the languages that we speak, which is so true. I still thank her every day in my heart for the fact that she encouraged me as a young student to learn important world languages. I will never forget the excitement that I felt the first time that I understood a conversation while sitting on a crowded bus in a foreign country. It was as if my mind revealed new insights into a hidden world where, until then, foreign words were just scrambled background noises. This awareness of sudden understanding brought tears to my eyes. Any learning process itself is of the greatest satisfaction and joy, but to learn in a foreign setting, a language or an academic skill is truly a life-altering event. Moreover, it is a beautiful adventure.


I was a foreign exchange student in the United States of America. I then became a proud citizen of the United States in 2000. I flew to Hawaii in 1986 to study at the university and learned so much about different cultures, which I learned to honor. The first day that I entered a classroom in Honolulu after having come from far away Europe was the most treasured event in my life. The first bashful smiles and misspoken words created a strong bond between our differing ethnicities, which is still lasting many years later. To be able to meet the students from all over the globe in a simple university barrack on campus ever changed my life. The moment that I became as a foreign exchange student, I was equipped with goodwill and the wish to learn the wonders of the new world in order to become a better human being.


When we all would welcome each other as friends with good will and an open mind, the world would be a more peaceful place, because we would not fight against our new found friends. When we all would learn more about each others culture, religion and customs, the world would be a friendlier place because, as we would know each other better, we would not be fearful of each other. When we would stop the endless hand me down chain reaction of prejudice from one generation to the other, the word terror would become meaningless because, with forgiveness and tolerance in our heart and actions, we would not despise each other anymore. Then without hatred and violence our world would become a better home for future generations. Thank You: PuakeaJutka


I thank Shari (iReporter Sunethra) for inspiring me to do this report.


Video by Jutka T. Emoke Barabas

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Gun rights activist on SXSW

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 03:36 PM PDT

Small group of gun rights activist walking on Austin's 6th street during South by south west (SXSW)

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From Russia with Love: A Native New Jersey Kid’s Cross-Cultural Experience in the Russian Federation

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 01:50 PM PDT

I studied with the School of Russian and Asian Studies program in the Russian Federation with financial assistance from the Benjamin A. Gilman Awards program funded by the U.S. Department of State. First, I would like to say that my trip would not have been possible with the aid from Gilman and I am grateful to them for allowing me to breath a little easier by having this experience without having to pay off an enormous student loan.

My experience was completely unorthodox in the best way; this is why I chose to be a video correspondent so that I could have the chance to show Americans back home some things they might not have known about daily life in Russia. I have met so many interesting people and barely spoke to any Americans on the program because of my interest in the people who live there. My language skills have improved drastically, and my whole perspective has changed in a way I cannot even begin to describe.

I have studied Russian for 2 ½ years prior to my arrival in Moscow, but the greatest education I received was from my daily activities in the city and communicating with locals. On the ground experience and complete immersion are tools that can guarantee a fast education in any foreign language. One is forced to learn quickly because: "Hey, ya gotta eat right?" I regret nothing about my trip and though adjustment was a little difficult, I was and still am completely willing to sacrifice some temporary conveniences for the greater understanding of a different culture half way around the world.

This holds especially true given the circumstances surrounding the conflict in the Crimean Peninsula in the Republic of Ukraine. My experience has provided me a unique perspective on Russian culture from the ground up and the confidence to know exactly how Russian and Ukrainian people feel about what is happening in current events.

I am continuously grateful to SRAS and Gilman for providing me with this opportunity and look forward to future collaboration in regards to the Post-Soviet Space.

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Adventures in Arabia

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 12:13 PM PDT

I spent my junior year abroad at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar. As a Boren Scholar, I was sponsored by the State Department and studied the Arabic language intensively over the course of those two semesters. In addition, my coursework concentrated on the politics and history of the Middle East. I was able to develop a deep appreciation for Islamic culture and developed close bonds with my classmates from Qatar and elsewhere. It was a highly beneficial and immersive experience. I made a concerted effort to learn about local customs and became deeply interested in the way of life in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Qatar is a small nation with great ambitions and wealth, and I believe that my experience there allowed me to gain unique insight into a country that is becoming more and more influential on the world stage.

I am a huge advocate of study abroad programs because I think that they allow students to expand their horizons and think about the world in a totally different light. America is a massive and incredibly powerful country, and I fear that many of my fellow citizens forget that there is a world outside of our borders. During my year in Qatar, I was fortunate travel extensively. I visited Saudi Arabia numerous times, went on a vacation to Thailand, and participated in a Habitat for Humanity session in Ethiopia under scholarship from Georgetown.

Regardless of one's field of study, I would strongly encourage students to go abroad. There are so many options, of varying duration and location, and it can be a truly eye-opening adventure. My time in Qatar had a profound impact on all spheres of my life, and I can confidently say that after returning to my home institution of Johns Hopkins, I am better prepared to enter a globalized and diverse workforce after my graduation in May. I strongly applaud any efforts by the Obama Administration to facilitate study abroad for students across the country.

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Student Question for Mrs. Obama, First Lady of the United States

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 11:52 AM PDT

Prince William County School District's student political reporter, Jenna, asks Mrs. Obama for advice on becoming an international ambassador.

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Why we should study abroad

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 08:57 AM PDT

This is my question for The First Lady, Michelle Obama, as to why i should study abroad.

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Dealing with culture shock when studying abroad.

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 07:27 AM PDT

Schooling in other countries can be exciting and gives you unforgettable experiences. However, it can get quite tough when you realize you are not "home" anymore. What felt different or exotic from your original "home" suddenly feels "weird," out of place, and uncomfortable when you are experiencing new culture in a different country. As a student studying abroad, how do you deal with culture shock before and after it happens?

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Frederic Eger asks Michelle Obama about the Creation of an International version to the US Presidential Scholars Program

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 07:16 AM PDT

Frederic Eger asks Michelle Obama about the Creation of an International version to the US Presidential Scholars Program
Frederic Eger asks Michelle Obama about the Creation of an International version to the US Presidential Scholars Program
Greetings from Jerusalem, Israel.
I am Film & TV Director and Producer Frederic Eger, Israeli Citizen.
This is about US Department of Education Presidential Scholar Program that honours outstanding High School students for their achievements in the Arts and the Cinematic Arts.
Problem: regulations to this program says applications to the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program are by invitation only, after nomination, students cannot apply individually and must be U.S. citizens or Permanent Resident.
What do you think of creating an International version to this US Presidential Scholars Program for students from the age of 13 up to 35 years old in the field of Performing Arts, Cinematic Arts, and Arts in general; and,
to twin this program with a partnering countries like Israel, Canada or France for example who would agree to organize a similar Presidential Progam for the Arts in their respective countries?
Please let met know what your thoughts are.
Big Hugs from Jerusalem, Israel
Have a good day.
Frederic Eger

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Who should encourage kids to study abroad?

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 07:05 AM PDT

who is responsible, American education system, earlier encouragement

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Out with the old, in with the new.......

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 06:26 AM PDT

The last season the Mets at Shea Stadium had fans watching the future home rise in the distance. Copyright by Robert Ondrovic Photography

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How can we make study abroad more appealing & affordable?

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 05:10 AM PDT

Money is likely the determining factor for most students who consider study abroad. Based on my own experiences as an international student and study abroad adviser at my university, I have learned that hundreds of funding options for study abroad exist—and often it takes just a bit of resourcefulness to find them. In the summer of 2012, I was very fortunate to receive one such scholarship: the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for my study abroad in Jordan.

Initiatives like the Gilman Scholarship Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, are immensely helpful in covering the costs of study abroad. Further, the Gilman Scholarship is particularly well suited for increasing the study abroad participation rates of students like myself from low-income backgrounds. Yet many other groups are also underrepresented in study abroad, including minority students, men, and students with disabilities, to name a few.

First Lady Michelle Obama, with this in mind, what do you believe can be done to diversify the types of grants, scholarships, and/or fellowships available at the federal level to students who wish to study abroad in order to make the experience more widely appealing and accessible?

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Atlanta Braves in a Bubble

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 05:06 AM PDT

Turner Field and downtown Atlanta skyline as seen from behind home plate. Copyright Robert Ondrovic Photography

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Out with the old, in with the new..........

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 04:55 AM PDT

Citifield, the new home of the NY Mets, can be seen rising up during the last season at Shea Stadium.  Copyright Robert Ondrovic Photography

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Kansas City, Kansas City here I come...

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 04:52 AM PDT

The Royals have unique architectural features in the outfield including columns and "dancing" fountains. Here is a view during Fireworks Night after a game against the Red Sox. Copyright Robert Ondrovic Photography

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Empowering LGBT Students: Building Solidarity in China

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 01:54 AM PDT

My name is Joel Yap and I'm an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. Last semester, I had the privilege of studying abroad at Fudan University in Shanghai, China as a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar.

Last year I attended a social justice panel at my school hosted by the Asian American community. They spoke of the new progressive movement building momentum across mainland China on issues such as women's rights, land, environmental issues and LGBT issues. As the next world superpower, I believed that the way in which China deals with these issues can have a major influence on the rest of the world. I was inspired to learn more about this dialogue and figured studying abroad would be the best avenue for it.

Being raised in a very liberal and diverse city like San Francisco, I seldom felt pressured to hide my sexuality. When making the decision to study in China - a more conservative country - I knew this worldview would be challenged. The fact that there are currently no protection laws in place for homosexuals in China was a little unsettling. However, it was my goal to step out of my comfort zone and that's exactly what I did.

My experience turned out to be life changing. For four months, I immersed myself in Chinese culture as a full-time student taking Mandarin, business and sociology, teaching English at a migrant school in a rural part of Shanghai, exploring the dynamic and bustling city streets that never seemed to sleep, trying street foods of all sorts, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and taking weekend trips to Suzhou ("Venice of the East"), Huangshan Mountains (which was used as inspiration for scenes in Avatar), the Great Wall, and Beijing with students from all over the world, some of which I am still good friends with to this day.

The most significant moment for me was the interactions I had with local LGBT students on campus. I made a friend named Zhang. He was a grad student in Chemistry and spoke very good English. He gave me tours around campus and took me to cool cafes where we'd talk about life. He shared the struggles he faces dealing with his sexuality, the pressure from his parents to get married, have kids, and continue the family lineage, the pressure to succeed, and the strong notion of "shame" attached to homosexuality. After sharing my own stories of struggle, I realized how similar we were and felt a deep connection that bridged the gap between our cultural differences.

From this experience, I've learned that when we open our minds, we allow each other to see the world from another perspective. Simply engaging in dialogue over personal stories of struggle made me realize how powerful my exchange with Zhang was in creating positive social change, in liberating the voices of those who oftentimes feel silenced. I have learned that all stereotypes and misunderstandings can be crushed through mutual understanding. This is why studying abroad is crucial in changing the world because peace between countries can only start from the small exchanges between our people. Even though I am oceans apart from China, the solidarity I've built with Zhang and the LGBT community at Fudan will never be divided.

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Letter to Friends of Ukraine

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 12:24 AM PDT

Dear rational-thinking, articles-reading, well-informed friends who have buried us on Maidan in January and in February when you were sure we had no chance against powerful machine of Yanukovich regime. You saw us as idealist who were doomed by our own lack of rational thinking and our passionate drive for freedom. We had no chance, but we did win!

Don't rush to bury us now! Don't assume that we are finished just because powerful crazy president of an aggressive neighboring country wants a part of Ukraine or dreams of destroying Ukrainians.

If you already see Ukraine divided and enslaved, you simply don't know Ukrainians. You don't know and don't understand the strength of our spirit. You don't know that every morning on main squares of big cities, like Kiev, Cherkassy, Donetsk, Kharkov hundreds are kneeling down in prayer for Ukraine. You don't know that the whole nation is turning to God now! When God is with us, who can be against us!

So don't bury us yet! Just sit back, relax and watch Putin choke when he tries to take a bite of Ukraine!

And if you are a believer, pray for us!

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