Webinars Dispel Myths, Bridge Knowledge Gap on Studying Abroad in Asia
Multimedia Presentations Deliver Pertinent Details on Asian Countries to Study Abroad Advisors, StudentsBy Stacey Hartmann GlobaLinks NewsWire Editor
When it comes to advising students about Asia study abroad programs, Allyson Goose finds a student’s level of interest is usually only as high as the student’s level of education on a particular Asian country.
This is one reason that Goose, a study abroad advisor at Brandeis University, decided to participate in a 45-minute AsiaLearn webinar on the subject of Korea, its history, culture, customs and study abroad offerings. AsiaLearn also offers a webinar on Malaysia, and soon will offer webinars on Singapore and other countries in Asia.
“It can be challenging to talk to students about Korea because students haven’t had as much education about the country and therefore don’t seem to be as interested in it as other places,” says Goose, who has experience living in Japan, but not Korea. “It helped me feel more confident in my advising about Korea. I lived in Japan for a year, so it was reassuring to see that so much of what makes Japan a great place to be is similar to what might interest people about Korea. Seeing photos of places was also helpful.”
The webinars are designed to educate individuals with a multi-media format of narration, bullet-point facts and photos about the countries of Asia, raise awareness and interest in Asia as a study abroad destination, and provide information and resources on a country’s history, culture, education, cost of living, interesting facts, food and more, says Kelli Modica, manager for AsiaLearn and developer of the webinars.
“We try to dispel some of the common misperceptions people have about Asia,” Modica says. “We’re not trying to promote our programs in these webinars. We’re just trying to educate others about the destinations.”
Interest in studying abroad in Asia is growing, particularly in China, which is now one of the top five destinations for U.S. students, according to the annual Open Doors report from the Institute for International Education. The growth is expected to continue. In fact, a recent online survey asking campus administrators about study abroad trends showed 54% of respondents reporting increases in study abroad to China for the 2009-2010 academic year.
Each AsiaLearn webinar explains the world region’s role as a growing force in education, business, politics and science. More U.S. businesses are working collaboratively with Asian businesses and organizations, so employers will be actively looking for employees with experience living in Asia and those who speak an Asian language, Modica says.
Even so, most students know too little about Asian countries to get comfortable with them as a real choice. They may perceive that studying in Asia is for language acquisition only even though many Asian higher education institutions teach courses in English. In addition, many students have health and safety concerns about Asian countries, most of which are unfounded. For these and other reasons, Asia is still uncharted territory for most U.S. students who want to study abroad, Modica says.
“Take Malaysia as an example,” Modica says. “A lot of people don’t know anything about Malaysia. This is a great destination. It’s fabulous for students to go to, and our webinar helps explain why.”
For example, the webinar teaches that Malaysia is a:
- Dynamic melting pot of diverse beliefs and cultures, with more than 100 languages spoken.
- Crossroad of trade routes from Europe, the Orient, India and China.
- Outdoor paradise with pristine beaches, towering mountains and the oldest tropical rainforest.
- Major producer of electrical goods and appliances.
- Host to more than 50,000 international students from 100 different countries.
Modica also points out that all courses at private colleges and universities are taught in English. This also is true at several public colleges.
When it comes to Korea, Goose says it’s difficult for Korea to compete as a study abroad destination against China or Japan for several reasons.
“Students may take Japanese or Chinese, for example, on campus,” she says. “Korean isn’t offered here. A lot of students want to go to China because it’s seen as very practical for business careers, but studying in Korea isn’t seen to be quite as useful for their careers.”
In the Korea webinar, Modica highlights these facts on Korea:
- One of the four “Asian Tigers” with Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, which along with Korea are known for exceptionally high economic growth rates.
- World leader in science, technology and innovation, including stem cell research, electronics and Internet access.
- Home to well known businesses Samsung, LG Electronics, KT (telecom), Daewoo and Hyundai.
- World’s largest shipbuilder.
- 90% of the homes have broadband Internet.
- Post-secondary education is highly competitive.
- Second in the world in number of university students per 100,000 adults.
- English is greatly pushed in education.
- World’s highest estimated national IQ.
- Seoul is second largest metro area behind Tokyo.
It’s not that information on Korea, Malaysia and other Asian countries isn’t widely available, Modica says. It is, however, the volume of information and scatter-shot sources can be overwhelming and time consuming to pull together for busy study abroad advisors or students.
“I think the study abroad advisors are glad they don’t have to do the research,” Modica says, “and with our live webinars, they also can ask questions.”
To view the free webinars, visit AsiaLearn’s webinars page.Print