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Wearing Many Hats

Study Abroad and Educational Travel Never End

People who do a lot of jobs at once are often described as wearing many hats. In fact, at the recent NAFSA Region XI conference that I attended in Newport, Rhode Island, there was even a presentation entitled "Wearing Many Hats Without Wigging Out." As I have discovered from talking and corresponding via email with international educators, wearing many hats is the rule and not the exception in this field.

Since most international educators are multiple-hat wearers, I sometimes wonder why I have so much trouble explaining why Transitions Abroad can be useful in its entirety for international educators. "Where's the Study Abroad?" one of our education abroad contributing editors, Barbara Burn of the Univ. of Massachusetts-Amherst, asked us at a recent lunch meeting.

Like international educators, Transitions Abroad wears many hats. We address international educational travel in all its aspects: working abroad, living abroad, and studying abroad. Some people have asked why we don't narrow the focus--why not just cover issues and trends in study abroad, for example? There is certainly a committed core audience for such coverage.

In fact, each and every article, directory, resource listing, and even advertisement has a focus on promoting a certain kind of travel. Educational travel is not limited to college-age students enrolling in overseas universities or joining their own university-sponsored programs. Ultimately, we all promote study abroad because of the vastly changed worldview that it gives students. That worldview will not shrink when a student leaves college.

We at Transitions Abroad feel strongly that study abroad for most students is a first, crucial step that promotes the kind of life-changing travel experiences that continue throughout life. That's why in the same issue in which we publish an article about helping students accept visitors from home while on a study abroad program, we feel perfectly united in purpose publishing an article about how to volunteer to save native species in Australia. The student who goes abroad and has a life-changing experience will not likely be content to come home and never again venture out of the bounds of his or her own country. Travel is an addictive teacher, and we owe it to the students whom we encourage to go abroad not to abandon them to the world of canned tours once they graduate. For example, many thousands of students each year want to work abroad--increasingly, international educators are being asked to help with that process. Working abroad necessitates living abroad. International educators need to be able to speak authoritatively about resources for living and working abroad, as well as travel and study.

I encourage international educators, who play a vital role in expanding the world for students, to look at Transitions Abroad in its entirety. Hand it off to students who want to backpack around their host country after the program is finished; offer a copy to a colleague in career advising so he or she can be sure to have the work abroad trend on the radar screen; plan your own trip.

Just as you wear many hats, so does this magazine.

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