This I Believe

Mary Beth - Denton, Texas
Entered on April 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in the power of international education. And, you will say, of course I do, as I have been working in this field for over 20 years. But not only does it pay my bills…I believe in it with all my soul. International education is our best hope for actively creating a peaceful future.

Specifically, my work has been in study abroad…I’ve had the pleasure of facilitating international education experiences of all kinds, for students of all sorts. For 20 years this has been my occupation and, increasingly, my passion.

I thought, when I took my first job as a secretary in the Texas A&M Study Abroad Program, that I was just stopping off while I got my Master’s degree in English (my other passion), headed for a PhD and a career as a university professor in that field. But the more I worked with students who were getting ready to have a life-changing experience, and with those who had returned from one, the more intrigued I became with the transformations I saw. And after I went on a study abroad program offered by my own institution and facilitated by my office, and served as a teaching assistant on the program, I realized that I wanted to spend my life helping students have that amazing experience of realizing that there really is a place outside of Texas. Those students had the OPENEST eyes I had ever seen…and none of us looked at College Station, Texas the same way when we got back there. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Yes, of course Texans know they are not from the ONLY state in the union. But you must understand that there’s a big feeling around that it might be the only worthwhile one. Besides, there are few other places in the United States where you can drive so very far and still be at home. You’d be halfway across Europe by the time you drove out of Texas. Yes, I know that Russia, China, other places put us to shame, land-wise. But you know what? Russia and China are just clear outside of the imagination of most Texans, dare I say of many in the United States.

So the job that I do every day is one of educating the imaginations of students, parents, faculty and administrators, high school students, anyone who will listen. Read this sentence in a Texas drawl: “Na-ow, whah wuld ah wa-unt to le-uhv Tex-us!?”

That’s my challenge.

What they say when the come home is my goal, my purpose, and my joy.