by Kate Hoving
On January 31, 2019, the Colony Room of the Sadler Center was transformed into a passport application office. Thanks to a partnership between the Global Education Office (GEO) at the Reves Center and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), eighty-five William & Mary students submitted their passport applications for free. To be eligible, students had to be an undergraduate freshman, sophomore, or junior, who had never had a passport. Students did not need to participate in a study abroad program in order to qualify.
CIEE representatives Craig Jefferson, Manager, Institutional Relations, and Meg Swoboda, Event & Marketing Senior Coordinator, gave checks to the registered students and then the students met with passport agents to review and submit their applications.
It’s all about removing barriers
CIEE's Passport Caravan is sponsoring passports for 10,000 students around the country as part of its participation in the national Generation Study Abroad™ initiative. Developed in 2014 by the Institute of International Education, the initiative seeks to double the number of U.S. students studying abroad by 2020 by breaking down the main barriers: cost, curriculum, and culture.
A new passport costs $145 in 2019. Getting a passport can be intimidating – both as a process and as a financial burden. “CIEE brings the passport agents to them on campus, provides payment, and facilitates the process,” explains Jefferson. “GEO made it as straightforward as possible. The students meet with the passport agents right on campus between their classes and walk away knowing a passport is in the mail.” Students could even get their photos taken right there.
The students impressed Jefferson. “They arrived before their appointment time, and some were even in suits! It just goes to show how these students recognized the opportunity CIEE and the Global Education Office provided. William & Mary students are definitely ready to explore the world and positively represent the U.S.”
Liz Smith ’21 applied for her first passport at the Caravan because she received a W&M – St Andrews First Abroad Scholarship. This GEO program provides students in their first year at W&M a funded introduction to study abroad by visiting the University of St Andrews over spring break; students who have never left the U.S. experience international travel in a supportive environment. First Abroad participants live in dorms, visit courses, participate in co-curricular activities, and learn about university life in Scotland. The program includes a scholarship for a subsequent semester or summer study abroad program.
Founded in 1947, CIEE is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization, serving more than 300 U.S. colleges and universities, 1,000 U.S. high schools, and more than 35,000 international exchange students each year. CIEE operates 61 study centers in 43 countries, sponsors international faculty training programs, teach abroad programs, and various specialty and custom programs for secondary, post-secondary, and international students.