National Collegiate Honors Council


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From Internationalizing Honors, ed. Kim Klein and Mary Kay Mulvaney (Lincoln, NE: National Collegiate Honors Council, 2020)


Copyright © 2020 National Collegiate Honors Council


It was Tuesday of the first week of classes for the fall 2012 term. At two o’clock in the afternoon, swamped with student petitions to register for classes and balancing myriad administrative issues, I found a young man with an unfamiliar accent standing on my office threshold. “I don’t have an appointment, but might you have a moment? My name is Carl. This is my second day in the states from Norway, and I heard about the honors program and would like to join.” A few days exist in an educator’s life that one can consider change moments, and that particular Tuesday proved to be one for me. Carl, a sophomore transfer student from the American College of Norway, demonstrated the rare confidence to reach out, and in doing so he has transformed honors education at our institution. Carl has served as an invaluable catalyst for our honors college to form an unprecedented relationship with the Norwegian Nobel Institute (NNI). The NNI supports the five-member panel that comprises the Nobel Committee and annually awards the Nobel Peace Prize. The possibilities of this relationship are only now coming to fruition: in the words of poet Robert Browning, “The best is yet to be . . .” (“Rabbi ben Ezra” 2). Extraordinary experiences unfold in Carl’s story, but it also provides honors directors with sage advice: drawing from the gifts of international students and inviting them into the honors community can play a dramatic role in internationalizing honors. Carl’s exemplary involvement provided intercultural understanding and an appreciation of global citizenship among students in our honors college and the larger campus community. His participation triggered a progression of events that ultimately created an institutional partnership with the NNI. The support that enabled Carl to acclimate into honors education and the strategies we collaboratively used to build an international partnership are arguably replicable on any campus. Carl’s story suggests how other institutions might maximize unique opportunities for engagement with their own international student population. Before explaining Carl’s contributions, this essay contextualizes the possibilities of engaging international students by reviewing the current statistics regarding international students in the United States.