ONSITE PERSPECTIVES IN FRANCE
I enrolled in the Onsite Perspectives: International Education Management in France program with two main goals: I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of International Education in the French context and I wanted to grow my professional network in France. During my three weeks in France, I accomplished both of these goals.
We met with over 15 different International Education providers, including French universities, American university centers, program providers, government organizations, and housing providers. This breadth of the field helped me see the common challenges that international educators in France are seeing today. For example, educators face a changing demographic of students, including fewer students who are solely French majors and an influx of participants from China. These demographic changes are affecting the programs and services that educators need to provide. With fewer French majors, providers are offering more English-language programs and options to take major-specific coursework abroad. The increase in non-US students is requiring educators to think reexamine their mental-health services, which are currently adapted to US culture.
As a young professional in the International Education field, it was reassuring to see the level of collaboration that was apparent in our visits. Despite working for different institutions, the partners who we met were actively share knowledge with their peers in the field. I was surprised by the diverse tasks that international educators are responsible for in on-site administration of programs. Site directors who we spoke with oversaw academic partnerships, building maintenance, student well-being, and human resources management, among many other roles. My participation in the Onsite Perspectives program reconfirmed my desire to work in international education, specifically in a student-facing role.
In addition to learning about international education, it was refreshing to be able to use my French language skills in professional and personal settings. We conducted many of our visits in French, and I pushed myself to ask questions to push my French language skills. My French level greatly improved over my three weeks in Paris.
Since returning from France, I have been able to apply what I observed during the program in my spring semester classes. Participating in the program has helped me bridge the gap from theory to practice, but also to understand the limitations of theory when faced with the many realities of implementation. I am excited to continue to reflect upon my experiences in Paris throughout the semester and the rest of my career!