These are unprecedented and challenging times for so many, and those of us working in international education have certainly had a wild ride. The last few months have proven that the Champlain College approach to international programs provides a strong safety net and an ability to respond to any situation that comes our way. To give some historical perspective to the impact of pandemics on student mobility, let’s look back to 1918. The Institute for International Education (IIE) was established during the Spanish Influenza, and in subsequent years, international student mobility rates increased exponentially. Furthermore, IIE data from more recent epidemics shows that study abroad rates rebound quickly after these localized events. Presently, student interest for study abroad next academic year has not waned despite the ongoing global crisis we find ourselves in. Despite the data, the economic fallout from this crisis may ultimately dictate students’ ability to participate moving forward. Whatever the future holds, the resilient international education teams in Burlington, Montreal, and Dublin are prepared to continue providing industry-leading programming for Champlain College students.
With little warning, the teams in Montreal and Dublin swiftly expedited the departure of dozens of students. This was an incredibly emotional time for faculty, staff, and students, and the departures were handled professionally and efficiently. Champlain College students also came home from Scotland, London, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand this spring. Others’ programs never even started, leaving a handful of students with a lost semester altogether. To date, 10 students have decided to weather the crisis in New Zealand, and intend to stay there until the semester ends in June. The Champlain View has done a fantastic job providing up to date information about program closures and study abroad FAQs.
One thing that is abundantly clear from this pandemic is challenges that face humanity today are global. Whether it’s global climate change or CoVid-19, solving these problems will only happen by working together as a global community. In a recent Financial Times article, Yuval Noah Harari writes, “Both the epidemic itself and the resulting economic crisis are global problems. They can be solved effectively only by global co-operation.” The field of international education has a role to play in repairing the world after this crisis. By helping a new generation of leaders gain global and cultural perspective, international experiences will give students essential skill sets to make the world a better place for all of us.
Hopes and dreams were shattered for so many this semester. Not spared were those students who spent their entire college career anticipating a semester abroad only to have it cut short abruptly. While we cannot change what has already happened, we can hope that the adversity students faced this year will prepare them to be stronger both personally and professionally moving forward.
Dr. Noah Goldblatt
Senior International Officer, Champlain College