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Traditionally, this space is reserved for the International Institute director. It is an opportunity for the director to talk about a topic that is timely with reference to international studies or research or that relates to how U-M fits into the international arena. But this issue of the Journal of the International Institute is different.
This issue, let's call it our Student Issue, highlights and celebrates the kind of learning that takes information from the classroom and implements it in the real world. Part of the mission of the International Institute is to create opportunities for supporting faculty, student and public engagement with a diverse and inter-connected world. It promotes education in the world's languages, societies and environments and organizes public programs on international issues. It supports collaborative projects with partners around the globe and believes that informed openness to the world is one of the University's greatest assets as scholarship and employment become increasingly global.
Having said all that, what does the key word "engagement" truly mean in an international/educational context? Through reading this issue of the II Journal it will become clear that engagement has many meanings—an image that sticks in the brain; a topic that needs further study; a goal to make a difference.
I am excited about this issue because it showcases the truly extraordinary experiences that U-M students have. The work published in other issues, mostly from U-M faculty and associates, many of them already legendary in their fields, is the backbone of the II Journal. But when we hear from students what their experiences have been like, what their research has taught them and how it has enhanced the world we get a look at a small sliver of our world that might, to us, go by unnoticed. In all cases there is an aura of hope and a bright light of wonder at what one student, one class, one thought can do.
As you read the work of these students I hope that some of their enthusiasm catches you and inspires you to rekindle an international interest, think more globally in your actions, or at the very least gives you insight into something new and valuable.
Eleanor Shelton is a freelance writer and editor based in Ann Arbor.