Opinion: The Importance of International Education
Isolation breeds ignorance, ignorance breeds fear, and fear breeds hate. In today’s world so intimately connected through trade, technology, and politics, there are still some who remain insulated behind barriers of idealology. In these instances, global affairs are a removed interest. There exists no venue for international education, because it is not considered a necessity. Such a setting does not come without a price. Just as any other marketplace grows stagnant without competition, a society’s knowledge
base cannot evolve without a free flow of ideas. The key lies in fostering an environment that emphasizes curiosity in the ways of life that exist outside of one’s immediate culture.
Stephanie Bell-Rose, Head of the TIAA Institute and former President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, believes that, “International education is going to be the primary means by which we are able to bridge the cultural and linguistic divides that exist not only within our country, but also globally”. As the world becomes more closely connected, international education will be needed to mitigate xenophobic sentiments by keeping the cycles of information free-flowing. Because of the accessibility of international travel and communication, children are increasingly introduced to foreign concepts. Whether they are taught to reject these concepts or embrace them will be left entirely to the emphasis placed on international education within their schools and communities. As a result, it is never too early to start the introduction. The prudent time to explore global affairs is now.
Duval County takes strides in the right direction with its expansion of dual-language offerings in schools. Early language immersion programs both cultivates interest in other cultures from a young age and provides unique skills that will allow students to thrive in a globalized environment. However, international education does not stop at grade school in Jacksonville. Both Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida have unique programs that specialize in introducing students to the world. JU has a commitment to Inclusion and Global Engagement, while UNF recognizes International Business as one of its Flagship Programs.
As Jacksonville, Florida, and the United States continue to grow, they will become increasingly exposed to the international community. The necessity to become accustomed with the traditions of the other seven-billion people in the world is ever more apparent. In order to succeed economically, geopolitically, and morally, we must associate ourselves with our global neighbors; to exist in isolation is not a viable option. It’s time to branch out, find common ground, and get connected.
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