The Council on International Educational Exchange’s (CIEE) Passport Caravan made a stop at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois) in February. The CIEE Passport Caravan sponsors passports for students who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to purchase a passport. This initiative is part of CIEE’s Generation Study Abroad Pledge, which aims to fund 10,000 passports over a six-year period ending in 2020 with an ultimate goal of increasing participation in education abroad.
At Illinois, the Passport Caravan sponsored 167 student passports, with 89% of participants receiving MAP Grants, 88% receiving Pell Grants, 73% being first-generation students, 83% students of color, and 55% being Illinois Promise recipients. Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange (IAGE), the campus study abroad office, co-facilitated the event with CIEE.
From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27, students were scheduled to meet with passport agents in the conference room at Ikenberry Resident Hall. Each student brought their passport application and documents, which were reviewed by passport agents before being submitted to the U.S. Department of State for final approval.
After students submitted their passport documents, they were encouraged to stop by a mini study abroad fair hosted by IAGE. Students were able to learn more about study abroad by visiting all of the tables set up in SDRP. Staff from IAGE were available to assist students with academic, budgeting, financial aid, location, and general questions. Students also had the opportunity to take part in activities set up by IAGE such as a prize wheel and photo booth to celebrate getting their first passports. When asked what this passport meant to them, every student had their own unique response.
Some students are finding their way to see their family that lives in another country for the first time. One student mentioned that her grandmother lives in Mexico and she has never been able to visit her. Receiving this passport will remove one of the roadblocks on the way to her visit. Many students are excited to travel to explore their heritage. One student expressed a desire to go to Africa to explore their culture, while another mentioned going to Jordan to improve their Arabic.
Students also saw the value in participating in studying abroad. Some have plans to work for an overseas company, and others have a desire to work in international contexts. Either way, their experiences abroad will undoubtedly help them in their future careers.
At Illinois, we are always looking for ways to make international experiences accessible to our students. Whichever path our students take with their new passports, we wish them safe travels!
CIEE is a provider of study abroad programs worldwide, in addition to providing. Learn more about CIEE: https://www.ciee.org/
Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange (IAGE), the campus study abroad office, offers more than 100 programs in 45 countries in addition to providing comprehensive support to students throughout their education abroad experience. Learn more about IAGE: https://studyabroad.illinois.edu.
View all photos from the event on Facebook: https://bit.ly/2HZDPZn