- Posted March 14, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama
Citizens of the World
I imagined the relations between the U.S. and Iraq, had there been a student exchange program between the nations prior to 9/11. Would a cultural gulf exist between the two countries had there been cultural exchange programs established prior to the Gulf War? If President George Bush Sr./Jr and Sadaam Hussein took part as college students in a student exchange program, would their relationship be different?
I asked my self many questions as such before making the decision to study International Relations in London, U.K. I knew ignorance was the main cause of the many divisions which segregated international policies from country to country. Fear was the driving factor of past and current conflicts between nations, and remains till this day. I'd come to believe that a person who exposed themselves to ideals, traditions, and cultures outside of their norm, would be a person who could break down the barriers of ignorance, which cause us to fear one another. The United Nations, in my opinion, could be the ideal institution to promote such interaction, however too much in-fighting has weakened its position in the world.
The declining influence of the United Nations as an arbiter between nations, is a direct result of the declining number of students who study outside their homeland. I had a couple of friends in Africa before studying abroad, now I have friends in over 67 countries, some now politicians, businessmen/woman, CEO's, amongst other things. I understand the world a little more because I'm exposed to multiple perspectives, of many colors.
In order for the international community to progress, study abroad/and exchange programs must become a part of academic institutions in every country. It's one thing to hear about Islamic Culture, however to experience firsthand from a Muslim in Pakistan, is another thing. Heads of State must reform education as we know it in order for global progress to be achieved.