7 countries where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free)

Humboldt University in Berlin

Since 1985, U.S. college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition fees keep rising. In Germany, they’ve done the opposite.

The country’s universities have been tuition-free since the beginning of October, when Lower Saxony became the last state to scrap the fees. Tuition rates were always low in Germany, but now the German government fully funds the education of its citizens — and even of foreigners.

Explaining the change, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, said tuition fees “discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study.  It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

What might interest potential university students in the United States is that Germany offers some programs in English — and it’s not the only country. Let’s take a look at the surprising — and very cheap — alternatives to pricey American college degrees.

1) Germany

Berlin

Germany’s higher education landscape primarily consists of internationally well-ranked public universities, some of which receive special funding because the government deems them “excellent institutions.” What’s more, Americans can earn a German undergraduate or graduate degree without speaking a word of German and without having to pay a single dollar of tuition fees: About 900 undergraduate or graduate degrees are offered exclusively in English, with courses ranging from engineering to social sciences. For some German degrees, you don’t even have to formally apply.

In fact, the German government would be happy if you decided to make use of its higher education system. The vast degree offerings in English are intended to prepare German students to communicate in a foreign language, but also to attract foreign students, because the country needs more skilled workers.

2) Finland

Helsinki Harbour

 

This northern European country charges no tuition fees, and it offers a large number of university programs in English. However, the Finnish government amiably reminds interested foreigners that they “are expected to independently cover all everyday living expenses.” In other words: Finland will finance your education, but not your afternoon coffee break.

3) France

Eiffel Tower

There are at least 76 English-language undergraduate programs in France, but many are offered by private universities and are expensive. Many more graduate-level courses, however, are designed for English-speaking students, and one out of every three French doctoral degrees is awarded to a foreign student.

“It is no longer needed to be fluent in French to study in France,” according to the government agency Campus France. The website studyportals.eu provides a comprehensive list of the available courses in France and other European countries.

Public university programs charge only a small tuition fee of about 200 dollars for most programs. Other, more elite institutions have adopted a model that requires students to pay fees that are based on the income of their parents. Children of unemployed parents can study for free, while more privileged families have to pay more. This rule is only valid for citizens of the European Union, but even the maximum fees (about $14,000 per year) are often much lower than U.S. tuition fees. Some universities, such as Sciences Po Paris, offer dual degrees with U.S. colleges.

4) Sweden

Sweden

This Scandinavian country is among the world’s wealthiest, and its beautiful landscape beckons. It also offers some of the world’s most cost-efficient college degrees. More than 900 listed programs in 35 universities are taught in English. However, only Ph.D programs are tuition-free.

5) Norway

Norway

Norwegian universities do not charge tuition fees for international students. The Norwegian higher education system is similar to the one in the United States: Class sizes are small and professors are easily approachable. Many Norwegian universities offer programs taught in English. American students, for example, could choose “Advanced Studies for Solo Instrumentalists or Chamber Music Ensembles” or “Development Geography.”

But don’t expect to save money in Norway, which has one of the world’shighest costs of living for expats And be careful where you decide to study. “Winters in general are quite different in different parts of the country, with the north having hard, arctic winters, and the southwest mostly having mild, wet average European winters,” the Norwegian Center for International Cooperation in Education notes.

6) Slovenia

Slovenia

About 150 English programs are available, and foreign nationals only pay an insignificant registration fee when they enroll. Slovenia borders Italy and Croatia, among Europe’s most popular vacation destinations. However, Times Higher Education, a weekly magazine based in London, did not list one Slovenian university in its recent World University Ranking.

7) Brazil

Brazil

This post was initially published by Rick Noack for the Washington Post. See it here

Does Studying Abroad Really Boost Your Job Prospects?

Studying at home – in your own city, your own state, even your own country – is so yesterday. These days, if you want to make the most of your investment in further education, from first degree to top drawer MBA program, you need to study abroad.Everyone seems to agree.

Studying Abroad and Employment

Heads of HR at major corporations regularly complain about the lack of truly international talent, and urge universities and business schools to develop it. Education providers of all types have responded with a wide range of partner programs, study trips and internships.

Even Harvard Business School now sends its MBA class to far flung corners of the globe in its first year. And Michelle Obama has gone on public record stating that overseas study is not just great for the individual but “is a vital part of America’s foreign policy.” Which is quite some endorsement.

But when it comes to the crunch – that is getting you a better, more fulfilling and well-paid job – does international study really deliver?

According to new research carried out by Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and posted on its research platform, RSM Discovery, the answer is yes. But it’s a qualified yes.

RSM’s Erik van ‘t Klooster interviewed over 1000 students, interns and alumni from around the world who generally felt that what the study calls ‘educational travel’ improved both their managerial and cross-cultural competencies and also made them more independent, flexible and self-aware.

So far so good. However the study also identified that those who studied or worked in emerging nations felt they benefited a lot less from the experience than those who went to more established economies. Why? For the perhaps predictable reason that they found it more difficult to appreciate the host culture and interact with locals, particularly in countries in Africa, Asia and parts of Latin America.

But isn’t this rather worrying? After all, any conversation with the hiring department of a multi-national will quickly tell you that what they are after in fast-track employees is not the sort of skills you can pick up on a vacation, but a genuine understanding of local cultures, specifically in the BRICS and N-11 countries that are offering so much commercial potential. However, what the RSM Discovery research suggests is that not enough is happening in the right places to effect this. But why?

The problem seems to be two-fold. First, too many students simply haven’t developed sufficient emotional maturity by the time they go abroad to fully benefit from the experience. And second, it’s still too easy at all levels and on all types of programs to exist in a Westernised ‘bubble’ surrounded by a peer group of broadly similar people and with little real incentive or necessity to fully immerse in the local environment.

Of course, there are many universities and business schools that are already doing some imaginative and innovative work in addressing this issue. The Moore School at the University of South Carolina, for example, has gone as far as hiring an anthropologist to make its MBA program more culturally open and immersive. But if the higher education community as a whole is to counter the charge of indulging in what some commentators have branded ‘education tourism’ then it must do more. Otherwise it will be in danger of letting down both its students and the organizations that will go on to employ them.

This post was originally published on Forbes.com

Celebrate Your Home Culture at a U.S. College

International StudentsThe international diversity of U.S. colleges can help students keep in touch with their home culture.

The feeling of displacement when moving to another country and immersing yourself in an entirely new culture can often be overwhelming, especially if you’re leaving home for the first time.
But prospective international students should not worry, as choosing to have your college experience in America doesn’t necessarily mean losing touch with your roots.
There are many ways you can maintain your home culture and even introduce aspects of life in your country to your American classmates, who may not have experienced your lifestyle.
First, realize that if you want to study in America, it’s unlikely that you will be the only student from your country studying at your college of choice.There’s usually two or more students from the same country or even school studying in the same academic year, so you won’t be entirely isolated.
Secondly, America itself is a country made up of hundreds of different cultures. In large cities you are bound to find many different international communities and social groups. For example, the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco was one of the most spectacular experiences of my year abroad, and thousands of people turned out to celebrate the event and enjoy the festivities.
Many campuses will often have an international student residence, and even if you choose to not live there, you can still visit. International houses will often host special events celebrating international holidays and festivals. The University of California – Berkeleys international house, for instance, has an exciting and varied calendar for the celebration of international events. For the Hindu festival of Diwali, a special evening meal was arranged for residents and other students. On Dia de los Muertos, students were encouraged to come to the residence to paint sugar skulls and learn about the traditional Mexican celebration. In addition, an international coffee gathering was held every Wednesday night. Students from different countries would be encouraged to host and prepare or buy popular food and drink from their cultures and celebrate unique aspects of their home countries.
This is a great way to bond with fellow students from your country and educate both international students and Americans. Even outside of your college’s international community, many student-run organizations are dedicated to the exploration of different cultures and offer another base for a strong international community. Examples include campus chapters of Hillel, a prominent Jewish student organization, or UC—Berkeley’s Indian Students Association.Harvard University also has a long list of cultural groups, with clubs such as the Haitian Alliance and the Coalition for East African Peace. Search your college website for the clubs and organizations index to get an idea of the variety of groups your prospective college offers.
If you still find that you feel isolated after arriving at your new college, then take the reins and organize some events of your own to help educate and inform American college students about your international culture. See if your residence hall will let you plan a coffee hour, or set up informal chat sessions with fellow students and residents where a few of you can get together and learn a few phrases in each other’s languages.
There’s no need for concern about losing your cultural identity during your time at college outside of your home country. You should use your time in America to maintain important aspects of your own culture and celebrate the vast multiculturalism that makes up your college community and the wider American society.
Emily Burt, from the United Kingdom, studied at the University of California – Berkeley on an exchange program. She will graduate from the University of East Anglia in 2014 with a bachelor’s in American literature and creative writing. This article was first published by http://www.usnews.com/ 

Consider Studying Abroad While Already an International Student

Studying abroad while already an international studentGoing abroad is not a new idea for someone already considering taking steps to become an international student. But how about setting off on another journey – either an academic exchange or an internship out of the States – while you’re a student at a U.S. university?

I call it the “double-abroad” experience. If you love traveling and crave global cross-cultural adventures, schedule an appointment with the international office at your school today and ask about another study abroad opportunity.

The preparation process might intimidate you at first, but ultimately you will be grateful for this decision. Studying abroad can give you countless opportunities to learn and grow, including the following:

1. Learn more about yourself: Reaching your American dream might already give you an unforgettable opportunity to reflect on yourself. But don’t stop there on the way to discovering your passion.

I would have never imagined that I would be able to switch among three languages to communicate if I did not take a semester abroad. I would also have never imagined that a person with no sense of direction like me could actually use a map to travel around.

A friend of mine discovered a love for Jamaican cuisine and can now cook palatable Jamaican dishes, a cuisine that he was never exposed to in his native country or in the U.S.

Though you’ve already studied abroad in the U.S., a double-abroad experience can place you in different circumstances, improve your problem-solving skills and allow you to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

2. Become more flexible: If you find studying in America has already helped you adapt easily to new experiences, you’d be surprised how well you deal with change when you go to another country.

There is no better time to challenge yourself with new places, cultures and lifestyles. I learned to deal with plans that changed at the last minute, cook with ingredients that I hadn’t even heard of before and enjoy talking to diverse people whose personalities might not perfectly match mine. I learned to be flexible in cultures that I knew little about.

3. Hone your intercultural understanding: While you’re involved in a double-abroad experience, you’ll likely have three different perspectives – your reflections from your native country, the U.S. and the country you are visiting.

Living in another country for a semester brings you a fresh view and challenges your existing stereotypes about the world. When studying abroad in Paris, I had a great time comparing its drinking culture with that of the U.S. and of my home country.

College is a time for adventure. You don’t know if you’ll still have the courage in five or 10 more years to take these risks and challenge yourself. Don’t wait until tomorrow to discover the world, to make mistakes and learn from them.

I decided to hop into another study abroad journey and explore different mindsets, cultures and even myself. Think about what you could do during a similar adventure.

Mai-Linh Bui, from Vietnam, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in communications, culture and media at Drexel University. Her minors are French and International Area Studies.

Article first published on http://www.usnews.com/

What happens in the brain when you learn a language?

We all know how easier living/working/traveling abroad is when you speak other languages. Well, there might be another reason to become bilingual…

Kara Morgan-Short using electrophysiology to examine the inner workings of the brain during language learning. Photograph: Yara Mekawi/University of Illinois

Kara Morgan-Short using electrophysiology to examine the inner workings of the brain during language learning. Photograph: Yara Mekawi/University of Illinois

Learning a foreign language can increase the size of your brain. This is what Swedish scientists discovered when they used brain scans to monitor what happens when someone learns a second language. The study is part of a growing body of research using brain imaging technologies to better understand the cognitive benefits of language learning. Tools like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electrophysiology, among others, can now tell us not only whether we need knee surgery or have irregularities with our heartbeat, but reveal what is happening in our brains when we hear, understand and produce second languages.

The Swedish MRI study showed that learning a foreign language has a visible effect on the brain. Young adult military recruits with a flair for languages learned Arabic, Russian or Dari intensively, while a control group of medical and cognitive science students also studied hard, but not at languages. MRI scans showed specific parts of the brains of the language students developed in size whereas the brain structures of the control group remained unchanged. Equally interesting was that learners whose brains grew in the hippocampus and areas of the cerebral cortex related to language learning had better language skills than other learners for whom the motor region of the cerebral cortex developed more.

In other words, the areas of the brain that grew were linked to how easy the learners found languages, and brain development varied according to performance. As the researchers noted, while it is not completely clear what changes after three months of intensive language study mean for the long term, brain growth sounds promising.

Looking at functional MRI brain scans can also tell us what parts of the brain are active during a specific learning task. For example, we can see why adult native speakers of a language like Japanese cannot easily hear the difference between the English “r” and “l” sounds (making it difficult for them to distinguish “river” and “liver” for example). Unlike English, Japanese does not distinguish between “r” and “l” as distinct sounds. Instead, a single sound unit (known as a phoneme) represents both sounds.

When presented with English words containing either of these sounds, brain imaging studies show that only a single region of a Japanese speaker’s brain is activated, whereas in English speakers, two different areas of activation show up, one for each unique sound.

For Japanese speakers, learning to hear and produce the differences between the two phonemes in English requires a rewiring of certain elements of the brain’s circuitry. What can be done? How can we learn these distinctions?

Early language studies based on brain research have shown that Japanese speakers can learn to hear and produce the difference in “r” and “l” by using a software program that greatly exaggerates the aspects of each sound that make it different from the other. When the sounds were modified and extended by the software, participants were more easily able to hear the difference between the sounds. In one study, after only three 20-minute sessions (just a single hour’s worth), the volunteers learned to successfully distinguish the sounds, even when the sounds were presented as part of normal speech.

This sort of research might eventually lead to advances in the use of technology for second-language learning. For example, using ultrasound machines like the ones used to show expectant parents the features and movements of their babies in the womb, researchers in articulatory phonetics have been able to explain to language learners how to make sounds by showing them visual images of how their tongue, lips, and jaw should move with their airstream mechanisms and the rise and fall of the soft palate to make these sounds.

Ian Wilson, a researcher working in Japan, has produced some early reports of studies of these technologies that are encouraging. Of course, researchers aren’t suggesting that ultrasound equipment be included as part of regular language learning classrooms, but savvy software engineers are beginning to come up with ways to capitalise on this new knowledge by incorporating imaging into cutting edge language learning apps.

Kara Morgan-Short, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, uses electrophysiology to examine the inner workings of the brain. She and her colleagues taught second-language learners to speak an artificial language – a miniature language constructed by linguists to test claims about language learnability in a controlled way.

In their experiment, one group of volunteers learned through explanations of the rules of the language, while a second group learned by being immersed in the language, similar to how we all learn our native languages. While all of their participants learned, it was the immersed learners whose brain processes were most like those of native speakers. Interestingly, up to six months later, when they could not have received any more exposure to the language at home because the language was artificial, these learners still performed well on tests, and their brain processes had become even more native-like.

In a follow-up study, Morgan-Short and her colleagues showed that the learners who demonstrated particular talents at picking up sequences and patterns learned grammar particularly well through immersion. Morgan-Short said: “This brain-based research tells us not only that some adults can learn through immersion, like children, but might enable us to match individual adult learners with the optimal learning contexts for them.”

Brain imaging research may eventually help us tailor language learning methods to our cognitive abilities, telling us whether we learn best from formal instruction that highlights rules, immersing ourselves in the sounds of a language, or perhaps one followed by the other.

However we learn, this recent brain-based research provides good news. We know that people who speak more than one language fluently have better memories and are more cognitively creative and mentally flexible than monolinguals. Canadian studies suggest that Alzheimer’s disease and the onset of dementia are diagnosed later for bilinguals than for monolinguals, meaning that knowing a second language can help us to stay cognitively healthy well into our later years.

Even more encouraging is that bilingual benefits still hold for those of us who do not learn our second languages as children. Edinburgh University researchers point out that “millions of people across the world acquire their second language later in life: in school, university, or work, or through migration or marriage.” Their results, with 853 participants, clearly show that knowing another language is advantageous, regardless of when you learn it.

Alison Mackey is professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and Lancaster University.

Teaching-Learning Culture: between Past and Present (Part 1)

Language_CultureWEB

Culture teaching has been known by different names in various places (Byram,1994,cited in Thai TESOL Bulletin, vol 11 N°1 Feb 1998). ‘Landeskunde’, in German literally means ‘knowledge of the country’, merely centres on teaching of facts that vindicate that it is teaching of ‘civilization’ not ‘culture’. In the 1950s-60s there was an emphasis on teaching geography and history as parts of language learning. The French term ‘civilization’ refers in a broad sense to the way of life and institutions of a particular country.

In the United States, the word ‘culture’ is used to refer to learning about customs and behaviours associated with the language learning, thus concentrating largely on daily life. In Britain ‘Background’ concentrates on information about customs and daily life; the phrase ‘area studies’ is also used to distinguish courses which are not devoted exclusively to literature from other courses. English departments in the colonial period ignored television, radio, speech, song, everyday narratives and were limited instead to the study of a narrow range of literary materials.

Language itself is already culture and therefore it is something of nonsense to talk about the inclusion or exclusion of culture in a foreign language curriculum. Mcleod (1976:212) made the point that “by teaching a language…one is inevitably already teaching culture implicitly”; a coming together of language and culture which Agar (1994) calls ‘Languaculture’. By speaking the language one automatically brings to the surface the culture of that language.

To speak a language effectively, one has to be able to think in that language; a thought which is extremely powerful. A person‘s mind is in a sense the centre of his identity, so if a person thinks in French in order to speak French, one can say, he has almost adopted a French identity (Brown 1994 , littlewood 1984). In the past, the most common method of presenting cultural material was exposition and explanation of facts, teachers talked at great length about the geographical environment, the history of the people, their literary, artistic and scientific achievements, the institutions of the society, and even about small details of their everyday life. These facts were shown in films and slides. Kramsch, Cain and Murphy-lejeune (1996) therefore outline historical reasons for discourse-based “culture as language and language as culture” pedagogy.

Allen (1985:138) attempts to summarize the history of culture teaching by contending that “…prior to the 1960s, the lines between language and culture were carefully drawn. The primary reason for second language study in the earlier part of this century was access to great literary masterpieces of civilization”. Flewing (1993:339) notes “It was through reading that students learned of the civilization associated with the target language”. Nostrand (1960 cited in The Internet TESL Journal “Towards Understanding of Culture in L2/FL Education) advocates the “describing and teaching the sociocultural context of a foreign language and literature”. Brooks (1968, ibid) emphasized the importance of culture not for the study of literature but for language learning.

Culture teaching must reflect the general, specific and dynamic aspects of culture in that learners should be exposed to the various aspects of the TC so that they are able to ‘function in interaction with people from cultures other than their own’(Gibson,1995:53). In the so-called traditional trend in teaching culture, emphasis was on imparting a body of knowledge about the history, geography and institutions of the target culture community.

The recently endorsed approach to teaching culture focuses on the need to help the learner develop skills and strategies conducive to intercultural competence that guide him/her to both the ‘objective’ and  the ‘subjective’ components of the target culture, as well as to the workings of intercultural communication.

Learners no longer need to judge the actions and values of others from within their own world; they have the possibility of understanding and judging from within the perspective of others and their worlds. Learners will need not only to understand the cultural influences at work in the behavior of others, but also to recognize the profound influence patterns of their own culture exert over their thoughts, activities, and their forms of linguistic expression. Culture teaching must contribute to making the contact between the two cultures bestow a ‘liberating’ experience that shuns the learner the underpinnings of ‘cultural imperialism’ and alienation. By failing to draw students’ attention to these cultural elements (language, behavior…) and to discuss their implications, the teacher allows misconceptions to develop in the students’ minds.

‘Culture’ and ‘civilization’ are not to be synonymous ‘Civilization’ included geography, history, artistic and literary achievements, political and educational and religious institutions, accomplishments in the sciences, and major philosophical concepts basic to the operation of the society. These represent the institutionalized, and frequently the metropolitan aspects of culture. ‘Culture’ in the contemporary teaching of languages includes these aspects, but much more attention is paid to everyday lifestyle of ordinary citizens and the values, beliefs and  prejudices they share with their fellows within their  linguistic and social groups with due attention to intergroup differences (of social class  for instance). Students, thus, become able to understand more fully the evolving relationship between the ‘formal culture’ (or civilization), aspects of contemporary society and the relationship and interaction between this formal culture and the deep culture of everyday living.

Culture teaching, broadly speaking, involves a comprehensive description of the way of life of a particular society which is intertwined with the teaching of language. Current pedagogy centralizes the importance of culture as context for language use. Stern  (1992 cited in TESOL Bulletin Vol11 N°1 Feb 1998) stresses “the need for a better knowledge of a country and its people as part of second language education, but also points out that instruction in foreign languages and cultures has decreased despite increased contacts with other people, cultures and countries.

Brooks (1964, ibid) strongly advocates the idea of a cultural component in the second language curriculum and emphasized an anthropological approach to the study of culture. Attempting to conceptualize culture teaching, Nostrand (1974, ibid) developed the Emergent Model Scheme which included six main categories:1-Culture: including value systems and habits of thought, 2-Society:including organizations and familial, religious, economic, educational, political and judicial institutions,3-Conflict :including interpersonal groups as well as intrapersonal conflict, 4-Ecology and Technology, including exploration of plants and animals, health care, and travel, 5-Individuals:had to do with intra/interpersonal variation and 6-Cross-cultural environment that had to do with attitudes towards other cultures and organizations. Culture teaching provides interdisciplinary courses in which students study the history, sociology, fine arts, or philosophy of the country/countries where the target language is spoken.

‘Culture’ in second and foreign language education today is clearly much more than “great” literature .This reality is reflected in current methods of language learning and teaching including the recent tapestry approach (Scarcella & Oxford,1992,ibid). Culture teaching helps students to be culturally informed so that they can effectively understand cultural messages, disambiguate them where necessary, assess their significance as signs and  images and realize the values they embody (Mountford,1995:3). Students will be able to ‘change their  view of the world by expressing their own cultural identity to the contrasting influences which the foreign culture and language might exert’(Raw,1997, cited in Ouakrime, Cultural Studies Magazine, Fez page 9).

Contrastive study of NC and TC is of great relevance in this respect. As learners strive to understand another culture, they will learn much by comparing and contrasting their own culture and its relationship to their use of their native language. The teachers of another culture are required to develop sensitivity to the attitudes of the students toward their own and other cultures, moving delicately toward attitude change where that is warranted.

Above all, native speakers and EFL teachers alike need to overcome any temptation to demonstrate the superiority of one culture over another. Teachers are not in the classroom to confirm the prejudice of their students nor to attack their deeply held convictions. For these reasons, any presentation of cultural material has preferably to be objective, analytic and informative, and hence The importance of the humanistic and affective dimensions of culture teaching which are likely to exist in an second or foreign language classroom.

Language educators cannot only work to dispel stereotypes, pockets of ignorance, and deep-seated prejudices that may exist, but rather can contribute to learners’ understanding that begins with awareness of self and leads to awareness of others. The question that is self-assertive is how much of the culture should be taught along with the language chiefly if we understand that the terms ‘target culture’ and ‘native speakers’ are challenged as being based upon a pre-global and exclusive approach to foreign language education which is becoming increasingly untenable today for language of wider communication (LWC).

To Be Continued …

By Dr. Azize Kour – Sale

Acess the article here

Solidarity Tourism

27-eastwestjubilationTop United Nations officials stressed the importance of tourism in reducing poverty and linking countries through tolerance and solidarity as they marked World Tourism Day today.

“At a time of profound global economic uncertainty, tourism’s ability to generate socio-economic opportunities and help reduce the gap between rich and poor, is more important than ever,” Secretary Ban Ki-moon noted in his message for the Day.

“There is no better way to learn about a new culture than to experience it first-hand. Tourism offers a wonderful connecting thread between visitor and host community. It promotes dialogue and interaction. Such contact between people of different backgrounds is the very foundation for tolerance. In a world struggling for peaceful coexistence, tourism can build bridges and contribute to peace,” he said.

Mr. Ban called for the incorporation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, a set of principles adopted by the UN to guide tourism stakeholders into sustainable and responsible tourism development.

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, also stressed the importance of the code in his message saying that tourism growth brings serious responsibilities to minimize any potentially negative impacts on the cultural assets and heritage of mankind.

“With 940 million tourists crossing international borders in 2010, never have the world’s peoples and cultures been drawn together as now. Through tourism, millions of people are brought closer every day,” hesaid, noting this year’s theme for the Day: “Tourism – linking cultures.”

“Experiencing different ways of life, discovering new food and customs and visiting cultural sites have become leading motivations for travel, and as a result, a crucial source of revenue and job creation, particularly for developing countries. Income from tourism is often redirected towards the safeguarding of these sites and even the revitalization of cultures,” he added.

Celebrated annually on 27 September, World Tourism Day serves to raise awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and the contributions it can make in the economic, political and social sectors, and how it can help towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This article was first published by the United Nation News Center. Find it here

An international push from the White House

An international push from the White House

42-21828752First lady Michelle Obama is working on efforts to promote more international travel among Americans. She’s in China with her daughters and mother, speaking about the importance of education, youth empowerment and the benefits of studying abroad. The first lady conducted an exclusive interview with CNN iReporters on Saturday, taking their questions on studying abroad.

“The benefits of studying abroad are almost endless,” Obama said during the CNN iReport interview. “First of all, it is going to make you more marketable in the United States. More and more companies are realizing that they need people with experience around the world.”

Howard Wallack, vice president of global business development at the Society for Human Resource Management, has experience as a hiring manager and was an international exchange student. He says traveling abroad can introduce students to a host of skills.

“Living in another country, you learn to deal with a variety of people,” he said. “You learn to listen, be proactive, be patient, assertive. All those are translatable skills.”

Wallack’s experience working in a rural health clinic in Guatemala after a major earthquake helped him find compassion and resiliency within himself.

“If you just stay in your own country, you have a certain mindset about your own culture. When you step out of that, you challenge your experiences and find out about yourself, which can translate in the workplace,” he said.

The problem is students don’t always know how to illustrate those experiences on paper. But some colleges are taking steps to teach soon-to-be graduates how to leverage their study abroad adventures for job interviews.

This article was published by CNN. Acess it here

Ecotourism, another way to travel

ImageEcotourism represents a set of principles that have been successfully implemented in various global communities, and are supported by extensive industry and academic research.

The following definition of ecotourism, established by TIES in 1990, is the most widely used and recognized definition of ecotourism: “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people” (TIES, 1990).

Ecotourism is an important and growing segment of the global tourism industry that is making significant positive contributions to the environmental, social, cultural and economic well-being of destinations and local communities around the world. Furthermore, ecotourism has provided an impetus to assist in greening the tourism industry on many fronts.

Ecotourism advocates for the well-being of local people, and requires that it “provides direct financial benefits and empowerment for local people,” as stated in the following principles of ecotourism: Principles of Ecotourism (TIES, 1990) –

Ecotourism is about connecting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow the following ecotourism principles:

  • Minimize impact;
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect;
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts;
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation;
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people;
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate

 

The terms community-based tourism and community-based ecotourism are commonly used to describe the type of tourism that, recognizing the significant social, environmental and economic impacts tourism can have, primarily focuses on tourism’s benefits to local communities.

“Community tourism,” therefore, strongly aligns with ecotourism, which fosters responsible practices where the local community significantly participates in the development and management of tourism, and empowers local citizens to utilize natural and cultural resources in a sustainable manner.

We urge all the readers of this article to learn more about the positive contributions of the global ecotourism community, and to join us in our efforts to stop green-washing (or the irresponsible use of the terms green, eco and sustainable) in travel and tourism through education on principles and benefits of ecotourism, advocating sustainability.

This article was published by CNN. To access the site, click here

Bangkok, THE Place to Be

BANGKOK – Seeking good friends and financial security, and don’t mind being close to palm trees and white-sand beaches? Thailand might be just the place you’re looking for.

bangkokThe Southeast Asian country topped the latest HSBC Expat survey for best overall   expat experience, particularly when it comes to setting up, integrating and           finding friends. China, Singapore, India and Taiwan all emerged in the top 10, with Malaysia (No. 20), Indonesia (No. 31) and Vietnam (No. 32) still among the top       50.

The ranking, now in its sixth year, compiles surveys from among more than   7,000 expatriates from nearly 100 countries across the globe.

When it comes to economics, Thailand (No. 4), Indonesia (No. 6) and Singapore (No. 9) ranked among the best places to live for expats. Lower living costs and higher earnings potential, however, made Thailand the most cost-effective place for foreigners, while Vietnam and Indonesia ranked highly for presenting the best career opportunities.

Not always seen as the most friendly places to live given the lack of infrastructure and confusing regulations, those countries are also seen as becoming better places to live.

Of course, that may owe a lot to better relocation packages and high household earnings – Asia is home to the highest paid expats in the world, according to the survey, with the highest proportion of expats earning more than $250,000 located in Indonesia (22%), Japan (13%) and China (10%).

In recent years Asia has seen some of the world’s strongest economic growth, and many emerging economies in Southeast Asia have drawn in an increasing number of foreign workers seeking better career opportunities with growth in their own economies remaining sluggish.

“Over the years, we have seen expat wealth gradually heading east, with emergent, and now indeed fully emerged, regions like the Middle East and Asia becoming more and more popular with expats,” said Dean Blackburn, head of HSBC Expat.

In addition to providing financial stability, Asia is proving a preferred destination for improved quality of living.

Thailand topped the chart for being a good place to make friends and enjoy an active social life. Respondents said it was easy for them to embrace local food and culture, with 60% saying life in Thailand allowed them a healthier diet.

It also ranked highly for expats looking for improved financial status. Nearly 80% of those surveyed said they had seen their disposable incomes improve since moving to the country.

“From Thailand’s countless tropical beaches and islands, to the world-class restaurants and modern infrastructure, the cultural attractions, and a still relatively attractive overall cost of living, it’s really hard for any country to top,” said 46-year-old Neal McCarthy, who relocated to Thailand from the U.S. 12 years ago.  “I don’t regret for a second having made the decision to come here.”

The one area where Asia underperformed was ease of family living.

This article was published in the Wall Street Journal. Access the site here.