We are all familiar with roads; we drive on them for short-term trips around town or a long-distance adventure for vacation. However, a road often serves as a metaphor for a personal journey. The road you travel may have unpredictable turns or upsets, a difficult climb, a coasting downhill or even a fork to choose where to go. However the road may lead you, it brings you to a destination, whatever that looks like to you.
The concept of traveling on a road is the theme of the Libraries newest exhibit Roads of Discovery: International Study Here and Abroad. On display in the Bartle Library lobby, Roads serves as a retrospective of international education at Binghamton and a promotion of current student experience with studying abroad. In collaboration with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and the Office of International Education and Global Initiatives (IEGI), the exhibit officially opens at noon on Thursday, October 13, 2022.
The creation of the new exhibit originated from Julie Wang, associate librarian and Asian and Asian American study librarian. Wang was inspired by her own experience as an international student and how that shaped her life.
“I came from China as an international student. So actually, when I was little, I always wanted to explore something outside,” said Wang in an interview. “I grew up in Beijing, but my family was sent to the countryside to do labor work while I was in elementary school. China was so isolated from the world then and my curiosity and wish to change my life became more substantial once I stepped on the road. I thought that there’s so much I didn’t know about the world, and if I ever had the opportunity, I should go to see more.”
Similarly for international students studying at Binghamton, studying abroad aims to have a long-lasting and positive impact.
“International students at Binghamton have the opportunity to engage in intercultural experiences and form lasting relationships and connections on and off campus,” said Christina MacDavitt, ISSS programming coordinator. “We hope our students will continue to value the things they learn and individuals they meet at Binghamton throughout their lives, whether they decide to remain in the U.S. following their graduations, return to their home countries or move to another culture for work or research.”
While hosting international students provides a worldly experience, it is also important for domestic students to travel and experience the world outside of their own home. For all students, there are tangible benefits from a global educational experience.
“There are three major takeaways for students studying abroad,” said Linda Torricelli, coordinator of education abroad with IEGI. “Academically, students have the option to obtain major, minor, general education or elective credit. Professionally, students can enhance their resume and fine tune skills employers desire such as flexibility and the ability to problem solve. Lastly, participants experience an increase of their cultural awareness and expand their understanding of self and others.”
Roads of Discovery celebrates the rich history of international education at Binghamton spanning from 1948 to present day. With the help of the Bartle Global Exhibit committee, several displays in the exhibit include archival photos, documents and instruction manuals for students and records of student travel.
“We have a brief history timeline display for inbound and outbound study abroad and our Special Collections Director, Dr. Blythe Roveland-Brenton, found interesting archival materials,” said Wang. “For example, we have a photo of the first international student and a handbook for international students coming to Binghamton. In the exhibit we also have a photo wall of outbound student pictures of their study-abroad experience as well as an interactive map for sharing where they traveled to.”
A key part of this exhibit’s success is the collaboration with ISSS and IEGI. The display of artifacts in one exhibit demonstrates how Binghamton has historically viewed global education.
“We hope that international students who visit this exhibit can clearly see how essential international education is to the history and tradition of Binghamton University,” said MacDavitt. “Our University has always and will continue to value the diverse perspectives and lived experiences of our students, faculty and staff.”
Visitors to the exhibit will not only see how global education has grown over the years, but also engage with how they can get involved themselves.
“I want this exhibit to be a stage for students to think about how important international student education is, how they can participate in these opportunities and how they can use this in their research,” said Wang. “I hope this can encourage students to really participate in study abroad and have inbound international students feel welcomed.”
With a wide range of programs and resources, exploring a global education is accessible for many disciplines and individual interests.
“Regardless of language background, as there are hundreds of programs in the SUNY system, any major can study abroad,” said Torricelli. “Financial aid and scholarships can be utilized for education abroad programs. Exchange programs can also be very cost effective as the tuition and fees are the same as Binghamton’s. We encourage students to visit our drop-in advising hours Monday through Fridays, 1p.m. to 4 p.m. and attend program information sessions. Summer 2023 and fall 2023 applications will be due on March 1 or sooner. It is never too early to start planning!”
The road of discovery looks different for everyone. It might include some challenges and rough spots or it might be newly paved that results in a smooth ride. Regardless of the journey, the one truth to the road you are on, the aim of the exhibit, is to show how much support there is.
“On the road, you’re not alone,” said Wang. “There are so many people and staff who share the same vision and will support you. If you hit a difficult roadblock, we have resources and University partners who can help you get past that. If you need motivation to get started, you can see the long history of student experiences to inspire you.”
Roads of Discovery: International Study Here and Abroad is on view in the Bartle Library lobby.
Join the exhibit opening from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 13 in the Bartle Library lobby to celebrate a look at Binghamton’s journey into studying abroad.
For more information, visit bengaged.binghamton.edu/libraries/rsvp_boot?id=1844430