Welcome to the World of Wheaton

Educational opportunities abroad and at home develop each students’ intellectual and cultural curiosity in a global and diverse world

by Gretchen Young
Dean, Center for Global Education

  • 32% of the class of 2023 had an international experience while at Wheaton 
  • Since 2000, over 285 students have received national fellowships to continue their work or study abroad after graduation, including the Rhodes, Marshall, Watson and Fulbright
  • 8% of Wheaton’s students identified as international in 2023-2024

The Center for Global Education works to create a Wheaton in which all students, faculty and staff are exposed to perspectives different from their own. Through educational opportunities abroad and at home, we assist students in developing their intellectual and cultural curiosity while appreciating and learning from diversity. We aim to make our community aware of and informed about issues of concern across the globe and emphasizing our responsibility to address these issues according to our place in the world.

One way we do this is by welcoming international students to campus each year to complete their degrees at Wheaton. In 2023-2024, 8% of Wheaton’s students identified as international. Additionally, we host visiting international students from our partner institutions in Spain, Germany, Japan and South Korea to spend a semester or two at Wheaton. The Center supports our international students as they navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system. We also strive to enhance their academic experience at Wheaton by providing personalized advising and support. 

We welcome our newly admitted international students and U.S. students living abroad to campus with an Early Arrival Program that allows them a few days to adjust to their new surroundings (and time zone) and offers sessions that help with the cultural and academic adjustments needed to attend an American university.  Excursions are offered throughout the year to familiarize our international students with all that New England has to offer. We’ve been known to go apple picking, whale watching, and kayaking; to visit Salem, Providence, Newport and Boston; and to participate in pow wows and in Providence WaterFire celebrations. We also support our international students in sharing their home cultures with the Wheaton community. 

We collaborate with student organizations, academic departments and other offices to promote cross-cultural engagement on campus and in the local community. We spearhead and support efforts to bring in lecturers and performers to represent different voices from around the world. This year our office has supported workshops by Trinidadian steel drum professionals; celebrations of Lunar New Year, Diwali, and Dia de los Muertos; a Moroccan Tea, Swedish Fika and Colombian obleas. Upcoming, on March 29 from 5-7 p.m., we will host the International Bazaar. This is an annual celebration of all of the cultures from around the world that can be found right here on Wheaton’s campus. This event includes interactive tables and displays, food, performances, activities, and more! It is a space to connect as a community and learn about each other (and our cultures!). Everyone is welcome. Join us!

We also advise students on a diverse offering of international opportunities, intentionally connecting them with programs that meet their academic, professional, and personal goals and needs. Study abroad is considered an integral part of a liberal arts education and Wheaton has a healthy tradition of sending students abroad. Pre-COVID we sent approximately 200 students abroad each year. 

Regardless of their major, all students are encouraged to go abroad to develop an international perspective and gain the skills necessary to be successful in our globally-connected world; not only in their careers but in all human interactions. Some students choose a program in which they deepen their understanding of a particular field, others focus on becoming more fluent in a foreign language, and many even try their hand at primary research in the field or an international internship. Skills and competencies learned abroad such as cross-cultural communication, resilience, adaptability, problem solving and so on are proven to distinguish job applicants. Expanded perspectives also prove to enhance the academic experience of students upon return. 

One of our trademark programs is our semester in Bhutan, which runs every fall. A small group of Wheaton students is accompanied by a Wheaton professor. It is a truly unique opportunity to live and study in this fascinating kingdom, nestled in the Himalayas, that has only been open to visitors since the 1970’s. Known for its spectacular scenery, respect for tradition, Buddhist underpinnings and environmentally conscious policies, it is the perfect place for any major to explore their interests. Also of note, the current, beloved, King of Bhutan attended Wheaton for a time!

Our newest study abroad initiative is the WheaGo Global First-Semester Study Abroad program, which is an opportunity for ambitious, adventurous and mature students who are internationally minded to spend the fall semester of their first year abroad. We offer four unique locations and topics: international business and management in Sydney, Australia; communications and international relations in Barcelona, Spain; art, design and fashion in Paris, France; or culture, sustainability and the sciences in Lugano, Switzerland. WheaGo courses count fully toward a student’s Wheaton degree. While on WheaGo students also take a Wheaton course online that helps them to navigate their experience abroad, support one another, and develop connections back on campus. Check out one recent WheaGo student’s experience.

We also collaborate with faculty to further internationalize the curriculum. We assist them in implementing international academic experiences that support students in exploring global issues. And we identify opportunities for faculty to acquire relevant international teaching and research experiences to enhance their on-campus teaching practices. 

This upcoming summer faculty will lead groups of 12 Wheaton students to Granada, Spain (and Morocco!) to explore Islamic Spain, and London, England to experience British theatre. Next year there will be faculty-led courses in Costa Rica and Ireland. For each faculty-led program, Wheaton’s Film and New Media (FNMS) department pays for one FNMS major to participate and create a documentary film. You can see the most recent projects here. Topics and locations change from year to year so encourage your students to keep their eyes open for short term programs that pique their interest! 

More information about our office is on our Center for Global Education website.