White House Announces Launch of Study Abroad Office – #studyabroadbecause


White House Announces Launch of Study Abroad Office – #studyabroadbecause

It’s not often (um, or ever) that I get to be a part of national policy discussions. I mean, I want to. Just nobody ever calls.

This week they did. The White House invited the Top 100 Most Influential Travel Bloggers for a day at the White House and series of briefings by senior administration officials. I feel so West Wing just writing that. So I put on my best Olivia Pope look and headed to DC for two days. It became known as the White House Travel Blogger Summit.


Cyrus – Buzz me in

It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE travel advocate and believe in the transformative power of raising our children as global citizens. JJ has been to Rwanda, not once but twice. Macie has been to Haiti multiple times. All of my kids have had their passports since they were babies and they are full of stamps from destinations as nearby as the Bahamas and as far flung as Mauritius.

This administration believes that our future as a nation in terms of global competitiveness is highly dependent on cultural awareness. The kind of awareness you don’t necessarily get from VISITING a country, but rather from living in one. They brought in travel voices from all over the country, from digital nomads to TV personalities like Samantha Brown and author’s like Pauline Frommer. Now I’m just name dropping. Shamelessly.


Samantha Brown-Travel Channel Elizabeth Thorp – Capitol File Magazine

This is excerpted from the Wall Street Journal by Al Kamen (WSJ / December 9, 2014)
The White House National Security Council has got a lot on its plate these days: ISIS, Ebola, Syria, Iran’s nukes, an increasingly assertive China and, of course, Putin. But that doesn’t mean the NSC can’t tackle our nation’s other still-vital issues that are often overlooked: the pressing need to convince kids to study abroad. Apparently, the lure of hanging out at the Bocconi in Milan or the Sorbonne in Paris or Fudan University in Shanghai just isn’t what it used to be. So Obama’s national security team is hosting a three-hour “summit” Tuesday afternoon with 100 travel bloggers and and digital media outlets to “highlight government initiatives and discuss strategies for encouraging American students to study, volunteer and work abroad.”

So what to do? Well, the White House is establishing an office completely dedicated to encouraging students to study abroad. That’s a huge step. I think it shows a great level of macro thinking on the part of our government. This is the beginning of the discussion. Not the end. We were addressed by President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough. He took three questions, one was mine. I believe that if the government wants to encourage students to study abroad, they need to help the parents offset the cost. I asked if they planned to provide tax incentives toward this end. He told me it was a good idea, and taken under consideration. See, they should totally be calling me more often.


POTUS Chief of Staff Denis McDonough

So follow along here as I keep you up to date on efforts to promote global citizenship and study abroad programs. For you young readers,and parents of students, check out the Virtual Study Abroad Fair.

Meanwhile, today we plan to break the internet with the #studyabroadbecause hashtag. Join the conversation and tell me, have you studied abroad? Why or why not? Are you encouraging your children to do so?

I didn’t study abroad but I did backpack for a summer, at one point I was traveling alone as my buddy wanted to go to Oktoberfest and I wanted to go north. Lucky me, a nice group of boys in Denmark offered to show me around-the bars.


Copenhagen and short hair

To be clear, as the mother of four I could not have reiterated more that it “it’s all about the bucks kid, everything else is just conversation.” My fave Gordon Gekko quote.

If you are really interested in hearing every word of the White House Travel Blogger Summit-you can watch the YouTube video here. The back of my head being one of the best features.

Have you studied abroad? Know someone who has? Why should students study abroad? Chime in and let your voice be heard. Click the ADD ME button to add yourself to the #StudyAbroadBecause mosaic.
Patent pending, Hyperactivate




Baby maker, risk taker, shoe lover, world saver, travel freak.

  • Well, you know I’m all about my children spreading their wings from my blog, but it sprouted when I went to study in Israel at age 16 and again at 18. Both experiences opened my eyes to everything the world has to offer. Then I was went to live in the UK immediately after college and traveled around all of Europe at age 22. Travel changed my life and it continues to as I raise my children as global citizens. I love this initiative!

    December 11, 2014 at 8:14 pm
  • What about me, can I study abroad?
    I think this is brilliant, and you’re right. Money is the big hurdle and they should make it easier for parents to send their kids abroad (so we can go visit, use their dorm as a home base, and travel around while they’re busy studying . . . ).
    Cheers, Laura from http://www.cocktailsandgelato.com

    December 11, 2014 at 8:33 pm
  • So exciting! I never studied abroad as a teen but was able to “study abroad” when my husband was transferred to London for a year. I studied every pub, uh I mean museum, in that city. I also realized that as Americans, we are so far behind when it comes to understanding any one else’s culture but our own. We traveled every weekend and it really opened our eyes to a whole new world. (Yes I just quoted Aladdin.) I’m much more open minded because of those experiences. This initiative is a great idea.

    December 29, 2014 at 11:41 am
  • Jeaninenaviaux

    Add me

    January 15, 2015 at 12:08 am
  • I completely agree. Travel abroad for teenagers is so important. It opens their eyes to how others live–and often how lucky they are–builds their confidence, expands their horizons beyond that of their limited high school/college lives, and I could go on and on. I’m also a big believer in traveling abroad mixed with community service work in different cultures, which creates more grateful and empathetic global citizens.

    February 16, 2015 at 6:11 pm
  • First, I must say kudos to you for making the cut. I could only salivate on such an offer to join the brood in DC. I’ve been traveling my whole life. My two children, 18 and 5, are both well-traveled. My 18 year old is a college freshman. One major is French. She plans to study abroad next year. I could not be more excited after my disappointment her high school failed to offer any level of travel abroad with foreign language clubs. When did schoo ls stop that? I tried tirelessly without success. These children need that opportunity. I digress… Loved the article.

    March 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm

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