The White House National Security Council has got a lot on its plate these days: ISIS, Ebola, Syria, Iran’s nukes, an increasingly assertive China and, of course, Putin.
But that doesn’t mean the NSC can’t tackle our nation’s other still-vital issues that are often overlooked: the pressing need to convince kids to study abroad.
Apparently, the lure of hanging out at the Bocconi in Milan or the Sorbonne in Paris or Fudan University in Shanghai just isn’t what it used to be. So Obama’s national security team is hosting a three-hour “summit” Tuesday afternoon with 100 travel bloggers and and digital media outlets to “highlight government initiatives and discuss strategies for encouraging American students to study, volunteer and work abroad.”
It’s not that kids these days don’t go abroad. The idea here is to find ways of “transforming interest in travel into study, volunteer and work opportunities” — and get them not to rush out to Silicon Valley to launch their first start-up (though the administration wants that too).
Legislation has languished on Capitol Hill to create a federal grant program to motivate universities to help achieve a national goal of 1 million U.S. college students studying abroad by 2020, and to more “nontraditional destinations outside Western Europe.” (Like Kyrgyzstan?)
The issue is important enough that a number of administration heavyweights will be there, including: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker; chief of staff Denis McDonough; deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes; Michelle Obama chief of staff Tina Tchen; assistant Secretary of State Evan Ryan and White House Social Innovation and Civil Participation office director Jonathan Greenblatt and Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. The hosts of the Travel Channel will be there along with the editor in chief of Yahoo Travel.
Team Obama knows how to multi-task.