October 6, 2003

Get a passport—and maybe a chance to use it

Lailee Mendelson is communications specialist for the Office of International Affairs.

The U.S. State Department estimates that less than 20 percent of the American population owns an up-to-date passport.

Do you?

If so—or if you are willing to apply for one—you are eligible to enter the Office of International Affairs’ (OIA) and Institute for Comparative and International Studies’ (ICIS) drawing to win $1,600 toward an Emory-organized journey abroad.

The drawing is open to the entire University community and will be the centerpiece of this year’s International Education Week celebration, Nov. 17–21. International Education Week is jointly sponsored by the U.S. departments of state and education, and its national observance highlights the importance of global learning and exchange in the promotion of peace, prosperity and partnership among nations.

The $1,600 prize will help fund an international trip of the winner’s choice with either Emory’s Center for Lifelong Learning (upcoming destinations include Mexico, Italy, France, and Eastern Europe) or Religious Life’s Journeys of Reconciliation (to Oaxaca, Mexico; Bosnia; or South Africa).

But here’s the catch: In order to claim the prize, the winner must present a valid passport within two weeks of the drawing, slated for Nov. 19.

Most of the Emory community knows the University is “internationalizing” and probably has a general idea of what the process entails: creating more opportunities for study and research abroad, expanding language learning, hosting international students and scholars, and establishing international connections.

But perhaps some are not yet aware of how far-reaching internationalization has become at Emory, that it is not housed solely within the obvious places such as area studies or language departments, but now permeates the entire campus. It also includes everyone, from the student who chooses to go abroad to the faculty member who encourages that student to do so, to the staff member who works out the details of bringing an international visitor to his or her department. Everyone has a role to play in making Emory a more globally aware, culturally sensitive institution.

That is why, for this year’s International Education Week, ICIS and OIA are encouraging everyone to get a passport, which represents the University’s collective readiness to engage with the world.

“Emory is our visa to the world,” said Gordon Newby, ICIS executive director. “By internationalizing all aspects of our educational effort, we are preparing the Emory community to help shape and lead the world in ways we can only now begin to imagine.

“As part of our preparation to be in the world, we all need to be ready to travel beyond our borders, to meet new people, to experience the richness of the world’s cultures,” Newby continued. “A passport is a necessary tool for travel, but an up-to-date passport is also our symbol that we are ready to journey to meet the world’s challenges and learn from the world’s cultures.”

“Travel abroad brings unparalleled cultural experiences and is the ultimate form of global learning,” said Holli Semetko, vice provost for international affairs and director of the Halle Institute for Global Learning. “We are too often misinformed about foreign countries and cultures, simply because of the fact that the news we receive in most U.S. media outlets is primarily domestic. The little foreign news that comes through to us about places and people abroad is often about conflict, disasters and bad—rather than good—happenings. Travel abroad, actually going there and experiencing a country and its people, can really shift one’s perspective.”

Applying for a passport is easy and only takes a few weeks. Visit the State Department website at www.state.gov/travel for all the necessary forms and information on the easiest way to obtain or renew a passport. Come Nov. 19, you may just find yourself in a position to use it.

For contest and prize details, limitations and a downloadable entry form, visit www.emory.edu/OIA. All entry forms must be received by Nov. 14.