GVSU students should represent Laker values around the world

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 3/23/16 10:51pm


For students lucky enough to have the opportunity to study abroad during their college career, time spent in another country provides an opportunity to branch out, experience new things and most importantly, make a difference.

A group of Grand Valley State University students are using their study abroad trip to raise money to buy shoes for children in need in the country they will be hosted in. These shoes, however, are doing more than providing a temporary fix. They are looking to solve a long-term problem of clothing and health disparity.

These innovative and life-changing contributions are something that every student studying abroad should strive for. Whether your contribution is through action or provision, thinking long-term is a great way to represent yourself, as well as the GVSU community when going abroad.

Studying abroad is more than just a chance to party in a new country. Sure, the drinking age in most other countries is lower than it is in America, but instead of spending your time in pubs or bars, take a day or two to give back to the community you are staying in. It should be a goal of all Lakers to end the stereotype of the "dumb American" and represent GVSU well all around the globe.

Remember, community service comes in many forms. You don't have to strictly volunteer at a nonprofit; you can take part in raising awareness for a local issue, participate in a community clean-up or help other people learn English by engaging them in conversation.

Think about this: studying abroad is the perfect way to share your experiences at GVSU with those who have limited access to higher education. All of this comes down to recognizing privilege within the community, and putting forth an effort to assist others.

Maybe these methods don't apply to your study abroad trip. Maybe your biggest contribution can be relaying the experiences you had abroad to those around you or applying the lessons you learned to your life at GVSU. Whatever the size or method of your contribution, a study abroad trip provides an opportunity for more than just a vacation.

Spreading your knowledge and sharing opportunities unites the Laker community to the larger global community. In the future, many employers may be impressed by your trip abroad, but the community you are visiting will be thankful, even for something as small as a pair of shoes.

As the network of GVSU alumni continues to grow and find their places around the world, Lakers should feel confident that no matter where they are, a Laker will always leave a positive impression of the values all GVSU community members take to heart.

Spreading the famous West Michigan kindness should be of the utmost importance to Lakers year-round, but especially when they're showing the rest of the world what GVSU is all about.

Remember, being a "Laker for a Lifetime" isn't something you get to turn on and off when it suits you best. No matter what you're doing, your behavior and actions are a reflection of the GVSU institution. As students begin to make their summer plans and head out to the far reaches of the globe, take some time to make your fellow Lakers proud of what you're showing the world about what GVSU stands for. 

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