Vice Provost of International Affairs hosts lecture on cultural awareness, value of traveling

Photo by Caleb Revill / Reporter

MTSU Vice Provost for International Affairs David Schmidt shared his experiences with students in a lecture about traveling the world and becoming culturally aware on Monday. A lot of people have started travelling the world a lot more recently (so that they can become culturally aware). Some have even taken part in Cultural Care Au Pair, however, it all depends on what the person wants to do and what they are comfortable with.

Students attended the lecture in the amphitheater room of the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building on campus. Philip Phillips, the associate dean of the University Honors College, welcomed attendees to the lecture. Phillips said that one of the Honors College’s goals was to promote the study abroad program.

After the brief introduction, Schmidt began his lecture with a presentation titled “Nowhere and Everywhere is my Home: A Lifetime of Global Engagement.” Schmidt then explained his upbringing. He was raised in Japan and South Korea by his German father and Irish mother. Having this diverse cultural upbringing would plant the seeds for his eventual love of traveling.

Schmidt reflected on the experiences he had while living in Asia and how it differed from America. He said that when he first arrived to the United States, he found difficulty in doing two things: looking at people in the eye while talking to them and talking about himself.

Schmidt then began to speak about global culture and how it has impacted his life and motivated him to travel to different places.

“Global is a step above international,” Schmidt said. “It’s worldwide. I’ve always loved experiencing different cultures. There is no right, no wrong, only different ways of doing things.”

Schmidt recalled a time when he was at an airport in Hong Kong with his father and brother. His brother had asked his father the races of different people at the airport. His father turned to his brother and Schmidt, put his hands on both of their shoulders and sternly said, “There is only one race: the human race. The rest is culture.”

Schmidt said that the memory really stuck with him.

During the lecture, Schmidt implored students to study abroad. He said that by studying abroad, students can become truly global, which can grant perspective.

“When you go abroad, you greatly appreciate what you already have,” Schmidt said.

According to Schmidt’s research, averages of the student abroad program show that students who study abroad have higher GPAs and better retention rates in their schooling.

Schmidt then addressed what many believe to be the number one obstacle blocking students from traveling abroad: money.

“International travel has become much less to do with money and much more to do with commitment and priorities,” Schmidt said.

He explained that by making it a goal to travel and by prioritizing this goal, having less money to spend on travel cannot keep someone from doing it.

Schmidt acknowledged that language barriers could also be a deterrent for students wanting to study abroad. He said that almost everyone should learn a second language. He explained that language should be used as window for learning new cultures, and there is no need to be fluent in a foreign language to study abroad. He stated that one just has to be familiar with the language.

“I did this for myself, to make myself better,” Schmidt said. “Travel for yourselves, folks, please.”

Towards the end of the lecture, Schmidt answered questions from students. He also encouraged everyone to get a passport, and mentioned that MTSU even holds a passport day once every year to register students for passports.

For more information on how MTSU students can study abroad, visit here.

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email

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