Provost Kyle Carter and his wife, Sarah, have established an endowed fund through The Campaign for Western that will generate money each year to help a Western Carolina University student participate in study abroad.
The Carters (pictured at right) value their experiences traveling abroad as among the most enriching educational experiences of their lives. At first, their trips were linked to strengthening and establishing international partnerships among institutions of higher education. Other excursions included traveling to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity or visiting friends and family.
What they realized through their travels was that they were students again, and theircampaign logo classrooms were countries: Taiwan, Thailand, Holland, Belgium, Germany, England, Ireland, Sweden, Wales, Nicaragua, Mexico, eastern and western Caribbean and Aruba. Their teachers were people they met along the way, people with different ideas about whether a car, train, water taxi or monorail is the best way to get across town, or whether a roof should be built to last 30 years or 100.
“We gained an appreciation of how travel expands one’s vision of the world,” said Sarah Carter. “It’s an amazing opportunity that opens your mind to questions you might not have asked or even considered. Travel is especially important for young people so they can broaden their perspective.”
The Carters know how much the experience meant to their own children. Their daughter, Heather, spent a year in Ireland, and their son, Travis, went to France.
“Neither of them would trade that experience for anything. We want to encourage and help more Western students have experiences like our children had,” said Kyle Carter.
“Going abroad gives students opportunities to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds in their country rather than in the United States,” he said. “When our students travel abroad they become the international student in a host country. As a consequence they get a much more realistic view of how citizens of other countries view education, science, politics, religion and the United States. They will learn about different practices and ideas. They will also discover there are common values and beliefs that bind humanity regardless of culture.”
The Carters know the more international experience and understanding that Western graduates have, the more prepared they will be able to succeed in a marketplace that is increasingly global in nature.
“We hope others will think this is a good investment and will join us in supporting study abroad for students at Western,” Kyle Carter said. “Others don’t have to create an endowment to help students travel abroad. Our International Programs and Services Office would welcome annual gifts to support Western students.”