The College of Charleston is, of course, world-class. But it’s the College’s classes around the world that have consistently earned the institution accolades for its international education programs.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) has ranked CofC as the No. 5 institution in the United States among the Top 40 master’s-level colleges and universities for the total number of study-abroad participants in the 2017–18 academic year. A total of 904 Cougars studied abroad that year. The College rose two spots from No. 7 the previous academic year.

“Providing students with the global and interdisciplinary perspectives needed to address 21st century issues is a key goal of the College,” says Andrew Sobiesuo, the College’s associate provost for international education. “A student who participates in a study-abroad program gains knowledge and skills that cannot be learned in a classroom and ends up better prepared and empowered to make a difference as a citizen of the world.”

Psychology professor Jennifer Wright runs two summer study-abroad programs: one in Cambodia and Vietnam and the other in Rwanda and Uganda. Both courses examine the psychological, political and environmental aftereffects of periods of violence and conflict in those regions.

Wright says the experience of taking in another culture in another part of the world is invaluable to students.

“Traveling to other regions of the world (places like Southeast Asia and east Africa) pushes us outside of our comfort zone – physically, emotionally, psychologically and culturally. And this creates a space for deep engagement,” says Wright. “Because we don’t know what to expect, we naturally become more open, more present, more aware of the ‘now,’ of what is happening around (and within) us. We learn a tremendous amount, not just about where we are, but about who we are. And we learn how to connect with each other, to move past the trivial annoyances and dislikes present on the surface, and bond with the actual human beings that lie beyond them. It reminds us that we are human, part of a global community.”

Featured image: Students in one of Jennifer Wright’s study-abroad courses visit the Elephant Valley Project in Cambodia. (Photo provided)