As I've discussed before, our program really combines two different experiences: study abroad (or, more accurately in our case, study away) and internships. Study abroad has obvious benefits for students in terms of expanding worldviews, experiencing cultures firsthand to increase understanding, and providing opportunities for shifting perspective from what one always knew. Certainly, the latter was what was most affecting about my time abroad: taken outside of my normal context of college, I thought differently about my own perspective and my future goals.
One of the possible benefits for colleges and their students who do not go abroad is the hope that, when students return from being abroad, their experiences will infuse a sense of global understanding across campus: that their experience will help to "internationalize" the campus. I cannot speak to whether this acculturation through osmosis actually happens, but the other way to produce this effect is to bring actual international students on campus. It is of course not all that easy to do: there must be something to attract international students to come to (and stay on) campus.
Well, it seems like Lynn University has found a way to do that, because I have never been around such an international campus--especially at a school of its size. Walking around campus, eating in the dining call, looking at faces in classrooms, I was struck by how diverse a place it was. I was constantly hearing different languages (most of which I could place, but several I could not).
The question is--and one which I didn't really ask--was how they do it. I assume that the allure of Florida is one reason, but there are many schools in Florida. I doubt the butterfly garden is a huge selling point, though it should be. I think one reason is its diverse curriculum, one that responds to the area around it but also looks beyond its borders. I think another might also be as simple as word of mouth, or perhaps that, if you are an international student visiting Lynn, you will see and hear people like you: maybe not like you exactly, but people who are not American. It's hard to be a trailblazer or an infinitesimal minority; I think sometimes it can feel like that for international students, who already have enough barriers to contend with when studying here. Thus, Lynn probably took some extra care to ensure that those first intenrational students felt at home and got a good education, and it has grown from there.
Whatever the reason, it's a pretty special place...even if it was ridiculously hot (by all accounts, not just by this Northerner).