Foreign studies open

Studying new languages and cultures is making many recent college graduates a valuable commodity in the workplace.

However, according to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, only four percent of U.S. undergraduates ever study abroad.The Office of International Education and Development is attempting to prepare Florida A&M students for the international job market by offering some exciting foreign exchange opportunities to the student body. Foreign language courses and summer internships are among their plans for the spring 2010 semester.

The department will begin to offer Mandarin and Arabic courses on Feb. 15, 2010, and are accepting study abroad applications. Students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and be a full-time students in order to apply. The ten week -long course will give its students a basic knowledge of either language, and costs $195. The office also offers study abroad opportunities and internship opportunities across the world. “We currently have international partnerships with between 20 and 30 countries,” said Joseph V. Jones, Interim Asst. Vice President of the Office of International Education and Development. The partnerships include locations in the Caribbean, South America, Africa and Europe. Jones believes that students with a combination of language skills and studying abroad experience will have a better chance at competing with other college graduates around the world. Peter Herford, executive director of the International Media Institute at Shantou University in China, sid the experience of studying abroad can have serious rewards.Herford said he had always been a “big fan of travel” and that “if an opportunity comes up to take the chance.” He said sttudents should seize the opportunity because the experiences students gain through international travel can assist them in the future. The expectation is that a student with study abroad experience is self-motivated, willing to embrace challenges and able to handle a diverse range of problems and situations. Living and studying in a foreign country, gaining knowledge about another culture, and acquiring another language has the potential to set candidates apart from the majority of other job applicants. “The cultural awareness and language acquisition puts (FAMU students) in the game to compete with the rest of the world,” said Jones.