Kevin Yochim ’10
Student Engagement Officer
ISEP, Arlington, VA
Like sharing a dorm room and enduring all-night cram sessions, studying abroad may seem an expected rite of passage for college students, but Kevin Yochim points out that fewer than 10 percent of students actually do it. “It’s really not a thing that a lot of students even consider,” notes Yochim, whose job with International Student Exchange Programs is to try to change that.
ISEP, a non profit consortium of some 300 colleges and universities worldwide, based in Arlington, Virginia, promotes and facilitates student travel abroad, an opportunity that Yochim believes is all the more important for young people in our global era. “Today’s challenging issues, such as climate change and inequality, are global issues, so you need an understanding of how to navigate other cultures and work with other people around the world in order to tackle those problems,” says Yochim, who studied in Argentina when he was earning his international studies degree at Middlebury College (he later earned his master’s in international education management at the Middlebury Institute). “Even if you plan to work the rest of your life in the United States, you are going to be interacting with people and businesses and organizations globally. So you need those cross-cultural skills in order to thrive in your career, and those are things that can be developed through study abroad.”
Perhaps most persuasive is the program’s affordability. Because ISEP is based on a student exchange model, the cost to study abroad is the same as what a student pays to attend their current school. The organization also offers various scholarships for travel to certain countries and for underrepresented groups.
Yochim’s first trips abroad—to Mexico and Honduras—were as a Williston student. Now he travels to colleges around the country encouraging others to broaden their horizons. “My role is to make more students aware of those opportunities,” he says, “and to make them possible.”