On Wed., Feb. 7, 2018, the Passport Caravan visited Florida A&M University (FAMU) and 50 FAMU students received a free passport as a result.
The Passport Caravan program is a part of a movement called Generation Study Abroad that is an initiative sponsored by the Council on International Educational Exchange. The goal of the Generation Study Abroad movement is to double the number of U.S. students who study abroad by the year 2020.
“It started around 2015 with a goal to give out 10,000 passports across the country by 2020,” said Alisa Jackson, the manager of institutional relations for MSIs for CIEE. Jackson continued to say that it is part of the commitment CIEE has to help students to study abroad, to double the numbers and increase diversity.
On the CIEE website at ciee.org, it states that “fewer than 300,000 U.S. students study abroad each year.” This translates to less than 10 percent of all U.S. undergraduates. However, though not derived from the CIEE website, the number of African-American undergraduates who study abroad is even more dismal.
“One of the challenges we have is that while there are a lot of White students who study abroad, the number of African-American students who study abroad is smaller than it should be: About 15 percent of students in the U.S. are African-American, while less than six percent of students who study abroad are African-American,” said William Hyndman III, assistant vice-president for the Office of International Education and Development at FAMU.
FAMU partnered with CIEE as a result of a strong study abroad initiative instituted by former FAMU president Elmyra Mangum, who went through a fellowship and annual conference with CIEE. FAMU filled out an application to be one of the stops on the CIEE’s passport caravan, to give free passports to students.
“Last year and the previous years the university has done their own passport events. Since I’ve been here the university has given out over 500 passports to its students,” said Hyndman. “We sent about 120 students abroad last year on study abroad programs, I would like to see that number double or triple in the next couple of years,” Hyndman concluded.
The criteria for becoming a free passport recipient are: “first or second-year FAMU student who has applied for a study abroad program, FAMU student in good standing, U.S. citizen, and a first-time passport applicant,” said Aleksandra Benedict, study abroad program coordinator with the Division of Academic Affairs at FAMU.
Solomon Lamar, a freshman majoring in business, is one of the recipients of free passports through CIEE’s passport caravan. “This took a big load off of me because a passport cost like $135,” Lamar said.
Lamar secured an internship abroad with Camp Adventures, and he will be working with American youth on military bases in either Japan, Germany or Italy.
“Study abroad has value. Students who study abroad tend to find a job quicker than their peers who didn’t study abroad. They tend to have a higher starting salary, and they tend to graduate more quickly. Research shows that study abroad has an impact on these things. It is also an extraordinary experience,” Hyndman said.