FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington has recently joined the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to help more Americans gain international experience through study abroad programs.

UMF is the only Maine institution included in the IIE’s coalition of 450 partners.

Launched earlier this year, Generation Study Abroad seeks to significantly increase study abroad participation by bringing employers, governments, associations and others together to build on current best practices. It also seeks to find new ways to extend study abroad opportunities and resources to tens of thousands of college students whose needs are not currently served by existing programs.

In keeping with the IIE Generation Study Abroad goal of doubling the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade, UMF is pledging to double the number of its students studying abroad by 2020 with a projected goal of having 10 percent of its student body participate in some type of international educational experience by that year.

“Studying abroad helps students learn new skills, develop new strengths and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world,” said Kathryn A. Foster, UMF president. “The experience plays a critical role in a student’s education and enhances their self-confidence and independence — skills that can really set them apart in today’s job market.”

To help increase student interest in studying abroad, UMF is developing a number of new initiatives, including, “Global Perspectives,” a new, two-day excursion program designed to make international education more accessible to fit student’s busy schedules and limited budgets.

Travel to Quebec, other parts of Atlantic Canada and global cities in the U.S. will be prime destinations that will help students see the benefits of longer-term studying abroad experiences.

The pilot excursion of the program featured a recent trip to Lac-Megantic, a long-time, sister city of Farmington and the site of a devastating 2013 railway disaster. While there, students spoke with several public official and civic leaders working to rebuild the city. They also toured the damaged city and visited the public library that was destroyed and recently rebuilt.

UMF currently offers semester-long formal exchange programs in France, England, Argentina, China and throughout the U.S. and Canada through the National Student Exchange program. UMF also offers travel courses during Winter and May terms.

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