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Notre Dame celebrates International Education Week

Adrienne Ruffners | Monday, November 22, 2004

Executive director of the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange Michael McCarry spoke Friday morning at a forum on international policy and its effects on American higher education.

The forum ended International Education Week, a series of events centering on international awareness and education.

The weeklong celebration coincided with a report released by the Association of International Educators naming Notre Dame’s study abroad programs among the top 13 in American universities.

McCarry, a 1971 Notre Dame alumnus, described his involvement as a foreign service officer in the U.S. Information Agency and answered students’ questions about his experiences and about general U.S. policy.

He emphasized the importance of international study not only for personal experience but also for widening students’ understandings of international relations.

The report praised the programs’ vast curriculum and students’ enthusiasm about studying abroad.

McCarry cited statistics comparing the number of American students abroad to the number of foreign students in the United States.

“[About] 575,000 foreign students study here each year, while only 175,000 Americans study abroad each year,” McCarry said. “More American students should study abroad to expand their perspectives. This is why the recognition of Notre Dame is so important.”

He also noted a proposal in Congress to establish a Lincoln Fellowship program, which would help fund programs that send students abroad.

“Our national leaders are beginning to understand that study abroad is really important,” McCarry said. “To me, that’s a home run.”

After graduating from Notre Dame, McCarry studied in Melbourne, Australia as a Rotary Scholar. He noticed major differences between American universities and more specialized Australian universities. McCarry also spent a great deal of time traveling.

“I traveled and was hooked for life,” McCarry said.

These experiences drew McCarry to the U.S. Information Agency. He worked in China shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre and focused on reestablishing diplomatic relations between the United States. and China through education.

The Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, where McCarry currently works, oversees 75 foreign exchange programs in the United States