For every corny but lovable dad joke out there is a gem of fatherly advice, and the fathers at IES Abroad can prove it. In honor of Father's Day, we asked some of our colleagues what words of wisdom they’ve shared (or plan to share) with their children about studying abroad and living internationally. Just as we thought, their answers were nothing short of awesome.
Here is their fatherly advice.
"My son did study abroad at IES Abroad Rio. I gave him two simple tips that he treasured and recently thanked me for. My first advice was to trust the Center's staff, faculty, and host family as if they were his family because he had seen how genuine of a passion and creativity we all pull out of ourselves while serving our students.
The second advice was to observe, listen, taste, and touch everything that was new and foreign to him with the prudence, curiosity, and awe of an explorer, and to trust locals about what was good or bad, safe or unsafe.
"He took many pictures, sent long letters, and came back saying that he loved Brazil so much and at the same time felt prouder than ever to be Italian...despite the performance of our team at the World Cup."
Dr. Roberto Andreoni, IES Abroad Milan Center Director
"In an important way, my children are already deeply influenced by study abroad since this was the reason I moved to Austria from the United States. We also hosted IES Abroad students in our home before I became an administrator, thus increasing their exposure to English as little ones. Since I am originally from Norway, and we live in a German-language environment, the children already speak three languages and have traveled to all of my ‘home’ countries extensively. For them to study abroad, which I earnestly hope they will, they will need to maintain the open-mindedness they have learned and apply it to building up their own perspective on life. I will tell them: There is nothing quite like study abroad to better understand the world...and yourself.”
Dr. Morten Solvik, IES Abroad Vienna Center Director
"One of my daughters is currently on an IES Abroad program. I’ve encouraged her to be interested in this from a young age because I know from my own experience how important it is to challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone. I’m witnessing my daughter experience the process of exploration, gaining understanding of herself, and the joy that comes from it. I’m really proud of her.”
Michael Green, Senior Associate Vice President of College Relations
"Despite that my son is just five and twin daughters (nearly) two, I already know studying abroad will certainly represent a pivotal moment in their lives, and I will surely persuade them to give it a shot. As it did for me, living in a different country can deeply broaden your horizons towards a distinct culture and also give you a better understanding of your own potential (and limitations). It was hard to see it back then, but it is crystal-clear now how my time in Portsmouth, England, ended up shaping my entire life for the better. Well, I've always wished my kids to have my same luck.
A few mottoes I might give them are to remain humble and curious; in life, you either win or learn, so you win in either case; and it's okay to not be okay, as mastering the art of adaptation is one of life's great challenges. All in all, I'm confident that studying abroad will allow them to develop skills that no school, university, or parent would ever be able to teach them."
Luca Blumer, IES Abroad Milan Student Affairs Coordinator
"I have two teenage children who both want to live abroad, but at the same time never want to leave Barcelona. While this is a conundrum they’ll have to tackle on their own, I’ll certainly do everything I can to encourage them to study abroad, as I truly believe it can be a life-changing experience in many ways. I also know that, in true adolescent spirit, if I try to give them advice they’ll ignore it, which is probably for the best, as everyone has to make their own mistakes.
I did once tell them that the biggest lesson I’d learned from living in different countries was that while we tend at first to be dazzled by all the things that make us different, the better you get to know people, the more you realize that we’re all fundamentally the same. And while cruelty and selfishness seem to be an unavoidable part of the human condition, to a much greater extent, so, too, are kindness, generosity, and nobility—and you’ll find these wherever you go.
They both listened patiently, then said, 'Everybody knows that, Papá.'"
Alex Walker, IES Abroad Barcelona Assistant Director & Dean of Faculty
"My fatherly advice goes out to student athletes and students studying fields related to sports. Anyone involved in sports will benefit from an international perspective. Just think of how global basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, tennis, soccer, and a host of other sports have become. Sports has truly become one of the most international fields of endeavor, so understanding other cultures, other languages, and people from other countries can be tremendously valuable in the world of sports."
Rich Bartecki, Executive Vice President, Marketing & College Relations
My first experience with international students was when I was around six years old. My parents were a homestay family, and for a number of years we hosted American students at home. This was perhaps the trigger to all that would happen later in my life.
Perhaps as a result, my family now operates within four languages and cultures. My children, who are three and nine years old, seamlessly go from one language to the other, even between themselves, and very interestingly they can grasp the riches of this cultural diversity, which, in time, will allow them to develop empathy towards others.
Studying abroad, living amongst others, is perhaps the most powerful experience that we can have, as long as it is in an environment that allows for safety, introspection, and socialization. As a parent, I’d like to make sure that my children have that opportunity, so I can see in their eyes the empowerment and awakening that my parents saw in mine.
Dr. Cèsar Alegre Alsina, IES Abroad Barcelona Center Director & AVP of Program Development
Happy Father's Day from IES Abroad!