By Justin Park, Fulbright 2015-2016 student from University of California-Los Angeles to Concordia University.
What is it about international education that challenges us to see the world in a different way? It is not only about recognizing the difference in language, culture and society, as we can be well conscious of it while being at home. It’s not just about checking off the places we have been wanting to visit. It has much more meaningful and deeper value to us as students.
As a Fulbright student in Montreal, I am given the opportunity to study my passion and interests in a brand new environment. One might think, how can Canada be that different from the United States? Speculations like these are all assumptions that we hold until they shatter in the light of new perspectives and thoughts following our arrival to a new place. Personally I see it as a first-hand opportunity to study immigration in a global context, to observe the naturalization process for African immigrants in a setting that is unique for its own immigration history and policy, and attempt to understand the thought process of immigrants to Canada. It may be possible to study this phenomenon without leaving the U.S. since the ever-developing technology allows us access to information at our fingertips.
Yet I find it especially important to be in the right context for things at the right time, an experience which from an education standpoint is invaluable. For example, Canada is among many countries in the world that deals with a large number of immigrants at a time when the pace and the direction of international migration are always in flux. In my spare time I try to meet as many people as I can through volunteering or random encounters, and I have heard some incredible stories. I feel extremely lucky to be studying immigration in Montreal for a year.
International education is becoming more and more pertinent than ever before. What we know and see can always be tested in a different environment, situation, or country. And by doing that we broaden our knowledge and deepen our understanding of the world. Challenging oneself to a new culture and values is always a good idea, a sentiment I’m sure was shared by Senator J. William Fulbright.