Coming up tomorrow night is the second annual International Washington reception organized by the Trade Alliance and members of International Staff Group–which is a group of international organizations in our region who meet once a month to discuss issues of common interest, coordinate on activities and work on projects like the International Washington Reception.
This post isn’t a shameless plug for the reception because it’s sold out–we can’t fit another person into the place (no really, don’t call–we can’t get you in. Sorry!). This fact and the incredible diversity of those attending, however, illustrates what we talk about on the international beat of the Prosperity Partnership Blog: our state’s ties to the world are incredibly important economically, socially and culturally.
We are celebrating all things international at the reception but this year we are especially emphasizing international/global education. Education is a key part of our state’s international picture. From international students studying in our schools, to creating globally aware students, education plays a key role in economic, social and cultural well being.
More than 14,000 international students study at our state’s universities and colleges. They contribute more than $300 million into the state’s economy each year. These students return home to become leaders in their own communities, creating natural ties between our region and important parts of the world.
Our region is also home to numerous international schools offering intensive language programs, providing students with a needed global perspective. The State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has a World Languages Program Supervisor. Unfortunately, last year due to budget cuts, this is now a half-time position. But, it’s still a full time job. Our children are growing up in an increasingly global society. For our state, which is already so tied internationally, to compete in the future, we must raise children who are globally aware and proficient in foreign languages.
So, even as we celebrate “International Washington” tomorrow night, we also know we have lots of work still to do if we want to be able to compete into the future.