Students gather and celebrate at the Center for International Service on the CSI campus.

Students gather and celebrate at the Center for International Service on the CSI campus.

The Center for International Service held an Exchange Student Ambassador Gathering last month.  Several students who are participating in the program were in attendance, including students travelling abroad who will be attending the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), the University of Canberra in Australia, as well as Institut de Préparation à l’Administration et à la Gestion (IPAG) in France, Seinan Gakuin University (SGU) in Japan and City University in Hong Kong.

The students received the opportunity to discuss their goals while studying abroad as well as the goals of CSI.  They were also able to meet their foreign exchange counterparts who will be returning to their own schools this summer.  “To be successful…as a business major…one must understand the culture and way of doing business in any given country,” said Tania Zorrilla, a business major who will be returning to DIT this fall.  “You only live once, it can be daunting thinking of moving to another country but believe me, once you are there, no matter where there is, you will not want to leave.”

Approximately twenty students will take part in this upcoming fall semester’s exchange program with nine CSI students travelling abroad.  While the main objective for exchange students is to experience life in a far-away setting, there is the expectation that they will be spreading their own wealth of knowledge to the students they encounter overseas.  “They build these wonderful relationships,” said Deborah Stengle, the Center for International Service’s Study Abroad Advisor.  “This allows us to develop opportunities we (CSI) may not have been able to otherwise.”

The Exchange Ambassador Program was formed as a natural evolution from the original one-plus-one exchange program started in 2005.  In the Ambassador Program, students take on the responsibility of becoming their school’s “cultural ambassador,” said Ann Helm, Executive Director of the Center for International Service.  “They represent us.”

Unlike regular exchange programs where students travel to another country as part of a cohort, these students travel in much smaller groups, often alone, to the international partner school.  Because of this, the Center is much more selective of whom they choose will represent us.  Along with the requisite GPA minimum, the students undergo several interviews where they must prove they are prepared for life as an ambassador in another country.  “We want someone who is ready to be independent and willing to take initiative,” said Stengle.

CSI’s approach to exchange is to treat the program like a partnership between our campus and its counterpart overseas.  “Many of our students end up recruiting students to attend CSI and those who travel here end up recruiting CSI students into the program,” said Helm.  This helps create a larger alumni base both here and overseas.

CSI’s partnership with universities around the globe makes more sense when the idea of a more global economy comes into play.  “English has become a global language,” said Helm.  “Today, International Business students are not only competing with each other for jobs, they are competing with students from Japan, Ireland, or France.”  But the Ambassador program does not only benefit those students who travel.  By virtue of its reciprocal nature, the foreign students who visit CSI “enrich our students, as well,” said Helm.

The students who participate in the Exchange Ambassador Program join an already impressive group of European students who treat studying abroad as intimidating as driving across state lines.  CSI’s program, though highly selective, has the benefit of being less costly than many other programs since students studying abroad only pay CUNY tuition plus flight and boarding.  And though there is emphasis placed on independence, CSI assists the student every step of the way.  A CSI faculty member in Staten Island as well as a counterpart faculty member overseas is always in contact with the student.  The program is open to all majors and all course work is done in English.  “With a little guidance, support, and planning we hope to supply this opportunity to many more students in the near future,” said Stengle.

For more information about the Exchange Ambassador Program as well as other International Programs visit the Center for International Service online or in building 2A, room 206 .