Op-Ed: United in Education for Global Prosperity and Peace

The late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright once said, “We must try to expand the boundaries of human wisdom, empathy, and perception, and there is no way of doing that except through education.”  As we celebrate International Education Week (November 13-17), those words are a reminder that educational exchange continues to build a bridge of mutual understanding connecting the people of Montenegro and the United States.

As a former exchange student myself, I truly believe that international education should be an integral part of every student’s academic career, and I am especially proud that more than 100 Montenegrins are currently full-time students at U.S. universities.

Many of these students applied to U.S. schools with assistance and advice from our EducationUSA Center at the American Corner in Podgorica, a community resource that operates with U.S. State Department assistance and support.  The Center, which is part of a network that includes hundreds of advising centers in more than 170 countries around the world, provides free of charge accurate and unbiased information about higher education in the United States for foreign students.

I would like to encourage all young people in Montenegro to use this free resource to learn more about the 4,500 accredited U.S. colleges and universities whose doors are open to qualified international students.  Whether you are interested in a four-year program, a technical degree, or a summer abroad, the United States has a program that can meet your needs.

It’s no secret that U.S. higher education ranks among the best in the world.   Currently, more than one million international students are studying in the United States.  I would love to see more talented, young people from Montenegro take advantage of these opportunities.  At the same time, I hope more U.S. students will come to Montenegro on exchange programs and experience your beautiful country.

Many international students find their path to the United States thanks to educational and cultural exchange programs funded by the U.S. State Department.  I especially encourage Montenegrin college students to apply for the undergraduate Global UGRAD scholarship, which funds one semester of study at a U.S. college or university.  The call for UGRAD applications is open now and closes at the end of December.

Similarly, Montenegrin high school students should check out the Future Leaders Exchange Program – better known as “FLEX.”   Last year, 15 Montenegrin students received FLEX scholarships to study at U.S. high schools for the 2016-17 academic year.  Moreover, I am thrilled to report that more than 400 Montenegrin students applied this year for this coveted opportunity.

In addition, the U.S. Embassy supports a variety of exchanges for Montenegrin researchers and scholars under the Fulbright program.  We also bring U.S. teaching assistants and professors to Montenegro as Fulbrighters to help teach English and strengthen the people-to-people ties that are so critical to the long-term success of our partnership.

Students, parents, and teachers can learn more about our many programs by visiting https://me.usembassy.gov .  There you can find information about student visas and other opportunities, including the popular Summer Work Travel Program.   I also encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, where we frequently highlight the stories of Montenegrin students who are currently in the United States and experiencing American culture firsthand.

Ultimately, International Education Week is a time to remember that the students of today will become the leaders of tomorrow.  We must do all we can to equip those young people – Montenegrins and Americans alike – with the skills to succeed.  Spending time as an exchange student opens doors to new opportunities and new perspectives that give students an advantage in the global economy of the 21st century.  More than a mastery of English, Montenegrin students will find in the United States a chance to study among the best and brightest international leaders of their generation.

As Americans, we thrive in the diversity that international students bring to our shores.  And we gather strength in the knowledge that international exchange forges friendships that last a lifetime.  Thank you to all those in Montenegro who continue to support educational exchange.

Happy International Education Week! #IEW2017


Margaret Ann Uyehara
U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro