The White House Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship successfully concluded on Tuesday evening with an immediate goal: to drive awareness of the personal and national benefits of study abroad and travel.
The extraordinary goal reflects a very special Summit audience: 100 of the USA’s leading travel bloggers and digital journalists. They participated in a one-day event that included presentations by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, the First Lady’s Chief of Staff Tina Tchen, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and a host of other passionate speakers from inside and outside of government.
The focus of the day was to raise awareness of the benefits of cross-cultural exchange and to boost international student mobility. Study abroad and global citizenship jointly shared the headline, which nicely encompasses traveling, volunteers and working overseas “with a purpose”. Among the initiatives announced at the Summit was creation of a new “Office of Study Abroad” within the State Department, which will help elevate study abroad as a priority within the Federal Government.
HI USA interest in study abroad runs deep. Study abroad aligns with HI USA’s own mission to create better global citizens and a more tolerant world. Each year, hundreds of thousands of study abroad students use HI hostels worldwide to venture outside their overseas campuses and learn more about local peoples and cultures while travelling affordably. Other benefits stated by top government officials include national security, career growth, and the national economy.
The Summit luncheon hosted by HI USA at the National Press Club was an opportunity for HI USA to share our own initiatives such as Great Hostel Give Back and to talk with bloggers. My own conversations with Summit participants clarified the importance of our USA hostels as a training ground for study abroad. US students can stay at our domestic hostels (or volunteer regularly!) with travelers from around the world and reap benefits of international exchange while saving for their big trip abroad. An international experience close to home can ignite interest in overseas pursuits.
We are honored to have been a partner in a White House initiative so aligned with our mission. And at a time when current world events can soak up all of our attention, the White House Summit was about forward thinking and investment in a better future.
As a study abroad participant myself, I have a million ways I could end the statement #StudyAbroadBecause. But I’m more interested in why you think it’s important. Join the conversation on Twitter using this hashtag and see what influencers around the world have to say. Together we can get more Americans abroad!