Student travels to six distant countries in one productive year In the space of 12 months, senior Clifford Pulley III traveled with WMU professors to more places overseas than many will see in a lifetime, and he racked up more credit hours studying abroad than any other student in recent memory. The summer before Pulley’s junior year, he studied business practices in Singapore and Malaysia and then took a language course in China. Since May he’s traveled to Uruguay and Rome and, until a few weeks ago, was in Chile. All these were overseas courses led by WMU faculty members. In January, he returns to China for a semester at the Beijing Language and Culture University. But the 22-year-old considers these far-flung excursions only the first steps toward a life and career on an international stage, initially as a businessman and perhaps one day as a diplomat.
student recruitment and outreach officer for the Haenicke Institute for Global Education. The Haenicke Institute promotes and supports international education at WMU in all its aspects, including study abroad.
WMU abroad While Pulley may be one of WMU’s most-traveled current students when it comes to studying in other countries for academic credit, he’s not alone in seeking these kinds of cross-cultural encounters outside the U.S. Each academic year, better than 500 WMU graduate and undergraduate students study abroad in more than 30 countries. More than 11 percent of undergraduates will take a class or more in another nation before they leave the University.
WMU offers students a variety of international opportunities as part of the University’s mission to develop globally engaged students and educators.
“I would like to make a global impact in whatever I do,” says Pulley, a global studies major whose number of trips abroad is high even among others pursuing this major.
Many of these overseas courses are led by WMU faculty members. In other cases, students take a class or classes at an overseas university taught by that institution’s instructors.
“The value of it is that it makes me more marketable and I’m really gaining an appreciation for other cultures and seeing their perspective, from cultural aspects to political (ones) and even how U.S. policy can affect the rest of the world,” Pulley says.
Some programs are semester long, others run a full academic year and many are short-term courses.
Though safely away from the action, Pulley and other WMU students were in Malaysia in 2011 during a period of political strife in which thousands took to the streets in Kuala Lumpur to demand election reform. The students were taken to another city and didn’t see the demonstrations but he says, “it was neat to have been there to hear about it and see the different challenges countries face.” People close to Pulley speak of his drive and say they wouldn’t be surprised if he became an ambassador one day or CEO of a multinational corporation. “Committed to making a difference in the world, he is absolutely a mover and a shaker and will undoubtedly make our list of distinguished alumni in the years to come,” says Kaitlyn Carr,
“Students often think, I’ll (travel abroad) when I start working,” says Dr. Jane Blyth, WMU’s study abroad director. “But when you start working, it’s difficult to go and really live abroad and experience the culture. You can travel but you’re always a tourist. As a student, you can go there and live and become part of the culture,” she says. That kind of deeper immersion is what Pulley is eager to experience next year in Beijing, where he’ll primarily take language classes and focus on understanding Chinese culture.
Culturally aware A news junkie who grew up listening to NPR’s international coverage, Pulley had traveled extensively in the United States with his family as a child but longed to go beyond U.S. b