Global Ambassadors Returnee Program: Can We Change Campus Culture?
KeywordsBilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education
Higher Education Administration
International and Comparative Education
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AbstractThe Education Abroad office at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is in a growing phase, quickly expanding and working conscientiously to increase the numbers of students studying abroad. In the midst of VCU’s transition from a commuter school to a residential campus, the administration seeks to internationalize the university, citing study abroad as one of its main goals. While VCU consistently works to create affordable program options for students of all majors, what VCU lacks is an institutional culture and awareness of study abroad. The Global Ambassadors returnee program seeks to create returned student programming that provides reflective opportunities and professional development for all returned study abroad students at VCU as well as structured activities in which to share their experiences with the VCU campus community and larger Richmond community. The program will provide constructive spaces to share stories, assist in readjustment to U.S. culture and to use low-cost methods to recruit prospective students using the stories and experiences already at the Education Abroad office’s disposal. The program endeavors to slowly affect change at VCU as on-campus student culture continues to grow and evolve in the coming years. There are countless students who begin their study abroad only after hearing about the experience from a friend. Knowing this, VCU will employ a word-of-mouth marketing technique to encourage study abroad to become an integral piece of the VCU student experience.