“Developing America is a multimedia non-profit dedicated to documenting the transformative experience of going abroad for US Millennials and building a like-minded community of people dedicated to honing a more globally relevant identity as an ever-developing nation.”
This statement is built on a few basic premises.
The first premise is that going abroad changes you, whether you are abroad for a week, a month, a year, or longer. It certainly changed me! Every time I went abroad and returned, I found myself a different person—a little bit humbler, a little bit wiser, and also a little bit more lost as to how I fit into society back in the US. It took me a long time to see that other people who went abroad were going through exactly the same challenges!
The next premise is that it hasn’t been fully fleshed out exactly how the waves of young US citizens now going abroad are effecting our sense of citizenship and national identity. And I do mean waves. While it is actually a very controversial question exactly how many US citizens go abroad (and who are they and where they go)—and one we will delve into later—the US State Department reports over 120 million valid passports circulating in the US up from 7 million at the end of the Cold War.
When I was in college, I was lucky enough to study abroad in Europe and all across North America. Because of these experiences, I have spent most of my career in international education, and one statistic I therefore find very interesting is the number of US students who study abroad each year. The Institute for International Education shows an increase of over 300% in US students studying abroad over the last two decades. While it is surely still only a privileged minority who can receive both a college education and do so abroad at the same time, I am hopeful and excited for the future when these more globally-minded people are able to influence society as they get older.
It was the heart-wrenching stories I was told from people in Central America and elsewhere that compelled me to move to DC. I felt I had a responsibility to do something because I was more aware. It is these same stories that have compelled me to start Developing America. I want to listen to other people's stories and hear what experiences have shaped their own perspectives, their own direction, and their own drive. I hope people will be willing to share them!