The opportunities for expanding global knowledge at the University of North Georgia (UNG) continue to grow as new programs are added. During the 2015-16 academic year, some 380 UNG students participated in study abroad and international internships, a number that has steadily increased over the past four years.
UNG will celebrate its international programs and partnerships with various events Nov. 7-18 in recognition of International Education Week, an initiative by the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment.
Darion Gibson, an international affairs major, has participated in both study abroad and an international internship.
"Internships allow friendships to form along with professional connections and even better, work experience," Gibson said. "I got exposure to culture and language, which provides more case studies that I can use to better understand material in my classes that primarily revolve around theories."
Marissa Langston completed a three month internship in Germany this summer through a scholarship from UNG's Center for the Future of North Georgia. She also received a stipend from the company in an opportunity that combined her marketing major and German minor.
"I was able to do real world marketing work at an agency surrounded by a German business environment," Langston said. "I was exposed to vocabulary used in German business and to areas of marketing such as public relations and event planning."
Dr. John Wilson, associate vice president for international programs, said real-world international experience gives students an advantage.
"Internships can provide that extra variable that many of our students need to compete in a highly competitive marketplace," Wilson said. "Intercultural communication is a vitally important part of the modern professional world, so employers will immediately take notice that you have already undertaken an internship abroad, and therefore have experience in a multicultural environment."
International opportunities with a military or strategic studies focus are growing as well, according to Tony Fritchle, associate director for Global Engagement.
Currently, UNG has active military training collaborations established in Poland and Taiwan with similar pending agreements in Hungary, Austria, South Korea, Japan, South Africa, Italy, Latvia and Czechoslovakia. UNG also has academic agreements with U.S. European Command and the NATO School in Germany, the NATO Defense College in Rome, and the Asia-Pacific Center for Strategic Studies in Hawaii; a similar agreement is pending with the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands.
Jesse Clements was among several UNG cadets who attended an international conference hosted by the National Defence Academy of the Republic of Georgia earlier this year.
"Not only did we have the opportunity to learn about a different country, but we also got to know other cadets from different militaries and learn from their stories and opinions of the world along with military training," Clements said. "The experience gained is something that the cadets from UNG will take with them into the future as commissioned Army officers as we face a globalizing world and more complex battlefield."
It's an experience replicated by dozens of UNG cadets who have attended international programs recently.
"The chance to socialize and gain relationships with fellow future officers provided for a rare and rich opportunity to expand the international knowledge and familiarity of cadets," said retired Sgt. Maj. Terry Baumann, a faculty member in UNG's Department of Military Science who took cadets to the International Cadet Conference in Latvia. "Of course, better than that, was the time spent briefly relaxing in the Latvian Defense Academy and gaining friendships that could eventually extend to the international operational environment of NATO."
During International Education Week, UNG will be hosting cadets from 11 different nations, who will spend the week living among cadets in UNG's military housing. They also will attend the Nov. 15 Economic Security Symposium hosted by UNG's Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies.
Public events planned during International Education Week across UNG campuses are designed to widen knowledge about a wide variety of languages and cultures. Events include foreign language films, guest speakers, food tastings and demonstrations, art exhibits, games, and cultural demonstrations.
For a full schedule of events and more information, visit the Center for Global Engagement website.