About the Author: Ann Stock serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted an event at Howard University focusing on study abroad as part of Chinese president Hu Jintao's official state visit. Mrs. Obama spoke before more than a thousand students from public, private and parochial schools, colleges and universities from around Washington, DC and across the country. More than 2,000 people tuned into a live webcast of the event, which highlighted President Obama's 100,000 Strong Initiative and encouraged more students to study abroad worldwide.
"Studying in countries like China isn't only about your prospects in the global marketplace," said Mrs. Obama. "It's not just about whether you can compete with your peers in other countries to make America stronger. It's also about whether you can come together, and work together with them to make our world stronger. It's about the friendships you make, the bonds of trust you establish, and the image of America that you project to the rest of the world."
After Mrs. Obama's remarks, I led a panel discussion with students who studied in China, including State Department exchange program alumni. Critical Language Scholarship alumna Nicole Baden of Howard University, National Security Language Initiative for Youth alumna Lyric Carter from Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Washington, D.C., Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship alumna Valery Lavigne from the College of New Jersey, and Gilman alumnus David Marzban from Pepperdine University shared their stories from their time abroad and were a hit with the crowd.
Check out this video to watch the event and hear firsthand from our program alumni. I also encourage you to check out a few of ECA's study abroad programs: Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, National Security Language Initiative for Youth, the Critical Language Scholarship Program and the Fulbright Program.
As Mrs. Obama said yesterday, "When you study abroad, you're actually helping to make America stronger."
Stay up-to-date on study abroad opportunities and more by following me @AnnatState on Twitter.