International Education Week (IEW) – a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education – is a national effort to promote programs that prepare youth with 21st century skills in today’s globalized world and to attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange life experiences with Americans while sending American students to various countries abroad to study languages and build cultural ties.

IEW provides students and alumni on exchange programs such as NSLI-Y with the opportunity to share their culture and experiences with their host communities and communities back home. IEW also provides an opportunity for NSLI-Y students and alumni to reflect about their exchange experiences, particularly regarding the impact this experience has on themselves and on the communities that they become a part of.

In order to celebrate International Education Week this year and to encourage NSLI-Y students to become more self-reflective, the NSLI-Y Program facilitated a panel on the importance and value of inclusive and diverse cultural exchange. The panel took place on November 20 at 5:00 PM ET. The panel was open to all NSLI-Y students and alumni and featured panelists who shared their experiences abroad and their thoughts on why inclusive exchange programs are increasingly important. Panelists included alumni and students from the Korean, Chinese, and Arabic programs as well as alumni on the iEARN Inclusion, Diversity, and Equality Abroad (IDEA) Committee.

Meet the speakers:

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Ryan, Arabic

Ryan (pictured above) is a current high school senior from Westborough, Massachusetts, with a strong interest in linguistic and cultural exchange. He studied Arabic on the 2019-2020 NSLI-Y summer program in Rabat, Morocco, and serves as the president of his school's Spanish Club. In his community, he has led the creation of a mural celebrating his school's diversity and has organized a series of free foreign language classes for children at the local library and elementary schools. He is the first high school student to be appointed to his town's Cultural Council as a full Voting Member.


Hassane, Chinese (Mandarin)

Hassane (pictured above) is a Summer 2019 Alumnus of the Kaohsiung, Taiwan cohort and attends Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He was initially drawn to NSLI-Y in order to improve his Mandarin skills and interact with Asian culture. After spending nearly two months in Taiwan, he now has a future goal to study international relations and attain a native accent in Mandarin. Hassane believes that he can be a part of changing the narrative of black people in Asia through citizen diplomacy after his experience with the NSLI-Y program. Read more Hassane's NSLI-Y experience through his recent NSLI-Y Interactive Story (

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Lois, Korean

Lois (pictured above) is a NSLI-Y Seoul Summer 2017 Alumni and current Stanford Undergraduate studying Human Biology and East Asian Studies. She is interested in both STEM and humanity topics, especially how diversity and inclusion can improve the quality of research done in these subjects. As a part of the iEARN IDEA Committee for the past two years, her main focus has been on outreach and improving the diversity of applicants as well as inclusion in foreign language study overall.


Shraddha, Arabic

Shraddha (pictued above) is a gap year student on the Arabic Academic Year 2019-2020 Program in Rabat, Morocco, and an alumna of the Arabic Summer 2017 Program in Amman, Jordan. In addition, she had the opportunity to serve as a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative for two years. As an Indian-American, she strives to use NSLI-Y to improve her knowledge of the Arabic language and culture of MENA, as well as to engage in dialogue about American diversity. She will be starting as a freshman at Harvard University in the fall of 2020, where she hopes to pursue Government and Middle Eastern Studies. Read more Shraddha's NSLI-Y experience through her recent NSLI-Y Interactive Story.

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Katie, Korean

Katie (pictured above) participated in the NSLI-Y Korea program in Seoul, South Korea this past summer. She believes in the importance of diverse and inclusive study abroad programs because everyone, regardless of their backgrounds or identities, should feel safe and welcome to study abroad. Currently, Katie is a freshman at Iowa State University where she studies Software Engineering and French.


Diogene, Korean

Diogene (Panel Moderator, pictured above) is currently a sophomore at Columbia University studying Comparative Literature and Linguistics. He participated in the Korea Summer 2017 Program in Seoul, where he got to pursue his goal of diving into a non-Romance language. Ever since, he has kept studying Korean, pursued studies in Portuguese, and continues to be interested in language acquisition and international relations.