New exchange network opens world for students

Starting this fall, students from six United Methodist-related universities in the United States and six international Methodist universities will have an opportunity to learn firsthand from each other in a new student exchange program.

The Methodist International Student Exchange Network is an initiative of the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU) managed by the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville, Tenn. There are 755 institutions in the Wesleyan tradition listed in the association’s directory.

The chapel at the Sagamihara Campus of Aoyama Gakuin University near Tokyo. The school was established by U.S. missionaries from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1874. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Engaging in extended international encounters can be one of the most significant learning experiences possible, said Ted Brown, president of IAMSCU and of Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn.

The idea for a student exchange program was introduced during a July 2011 joint meeting of the international and national university associations in Washington as a way to promote interaction and cooperation among institutions in the Methodist tradition, Dr. Brown said.

Student exchange programs usually are bilateral agreements between two institutions requiring a lot of effort and expense, Dr. Brown said. The Methodist exchange program simplifies that process by forming a network of institutions. It also offers more flexibility for the institutions to send and receive students from any school participating in the network.

Financial aid packages remain in place through the exchange so the only financial responsibility the student has is to pay for room and board at the host school.

“I know both from personal experience and from exchanges that students at Martin Methodist College have engaged in that an extended international encounter can be one of the most significant learning experiences possible,” Dr. Brown said. “If you take that basic premise and put it in the context of a network of Methodist institutions, I am convinced we will have a very powerful tool for church leadership development.”

The schools participating are:

• Centenary College of Louisiana
• Ferrum College
• LaGrange College
• Martin Methodist College
• Nebraska Wesleyan University
• West Virginia Wesleyan College
• Aoyama Gakuin, Japan
• Madero University, Mexico
• Methodist University of Piracicaba, Brazil
• Universidade Metodista de São Paulo, Brazil
• Isabella Thoburn College, India
• Paichai University in Korea

For more information, contact the Board of Higher Education and Ministry at (615) 742-5470 or email iamscu@gbhem.org.

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