The White House hosted 100 travel bloggers in a summit on Tuesday to sell them on the government’s plan to promote study abroad among U.S. students.
Bloggers who attended the event — called the White House Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship — were largely on board with this message, which they promoted via social media Thursday, using the hashtag #StudyAbroadBecause.
The National Security Council is leading the effort, and the U.S. State Department will soon open a U.S. Study Abroad Office to support initiatives that will get more college students to take their academic studies to other countries, and return home with valuable language skills and international awareness. There will be an online study-abroad fair on Feb. 25.
The U.S. government also aims to increase study abroad in countries outside of the European Union; 32% of study abroad in 2013 was to the UK, Italy and Spain.
It also wants to increase diversity among students who go abroad; about 62% of U.S. college students are white, but they make up 76% of students who travel abroad.
Bloggers were warmly welcomed by the government at Tuesday’s summit — a departure from its typical attitude toward members of the media. When it comes to promoting study abroad, it seems that the government sees bloggers as allies.
Senior officials who spoke to attendees on Tuesday included White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, assistant to the president and Michelle Obama’s chief of staff Tina Tchen, commerce secretary Penny Pritzker, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication Ben Rhodes and more. It was a veritable procession of VIPs, thanking attendees for the work they do in promoting travel.
The government is looking to bloggers — who range from journalists adhering to traditional reporting standards to sponsored storytellers — to influence students, hoping that they can reach the ever-elusive millennial demographic.
However, it’s unclear whether travel bloggers can, in fact, influence this group — and whether study broad is even a worthwhile endeavor for American students. . . .”