Profiles in International Education: Jeramy Johnson

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Study Abroad is one of my passions - it's one of the those life-changing occurrences that can change the world, person by person. Our latest interview for our Profiles in International Education series is Jeramy Johnson. Jeramy is Vice President of Development at API - Academic Programs International. He's an expert at developing programs and initiatives in study abroad, and coordinates API's incredible online presence (including a treasure trove of a blog, sharing study abroad stories from around the world). He's truly a champion for study abroad, and in turn, international education. I am so pleased that he's sharing new and innovative study abroad resources monthly here on Wandering Educators, as our Study Abroad Editor.


We were lucky enough to sit down and chat with Jeramy about his background, travels, API, study abroad, and more. Here's what he had to say...



WE: Please tell us a little bit about yourself - your travels, and international education experience...

JJ: Prior to entering the exciting field of study abroad, my international experience had included trips to the Yucatan in Mexico, Quebec in Canada, and Salzburg and Vienna, Austria. Through my various roles at API, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many of our study abroad program locations, including Barcelona, Bilbao, Budapest, Doha, Dublin, Florence, Galway, Grenoble, Krakow, Leeds, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Sharjah, and Tuscania. I hope to add to this list each year as my schedule and development goals permit.



WE: What drew you to the field of international education?

JJ: I’ve been in the international education field for almost 9 years, and have loved every minute of it.   

My entrée into international education was somewhat unorthodox. I studied advertising as an undergrad, and my internships focused specifically on sports marketing. I was fortunate to intern in the marketing department for men’s and women’s athletics at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as with Pepsi (Dallas Cowboys training camp sponsor) and the San Antonio Spurs. In graduate school I pursued studies in media and public affairs, envisioning a career with an international news organization or the State Department.

I’ve always been fascinated with travel and learning about other countries, cultures, and histories, and while in college I was fortunate to meet and fall in love with a woman who shared those values. My wife (who also works at API) was born in Bogata, Colombia, and lived in such exotic and exciting places as Burma (Myanmar), Hong Kong, and Austria. After hearing her travel stories I was hooked, and knew that I wanted to spend my life in the international realm. After college, she began working for a study abroad program, and the rest was history. While in graduate school, I learned about the study abroad field vicariously and got to know many contacts in the industry. Upon graduating with my master’s degree, I was fortunate enough to connect with API.



WE: What can readers find, at Academic Programs International?

JJ: As a study abroad organization, API provides comprehensive programs and support to U.S. students looking to experience the wonders of an international education. This includes the obvious things like tuition, housing, and insurance, but just as importantly, the special touches that make a program unique (our innovative orientation programs, excellent staff training, diverse and directed cultural activities and excursions), etc. We also try to contribute to the field of international education by being a leader in academic, research, and technical developments. But honestly, I think that what separates API from other study abroad organizations is the people that work here – from the program advisors and student support staff to the fantastic on-site directors. The people at API are the reason it is such a great organization to work for, and are most often cited by alumni and partner schools as a top reason why they chose our programs.



WE: What do you enjoy most about working in Study Abroad?

JJ: Two things – the travel, and the people (they are interconnected really). I thoroughly enjoy talking about study abroad with a variety of audiences (students, parents, advisors) and in a variety of venues (social media, campus visits, phone calls, study abroad fairs). My job affords me the opportunity to see all parts of the U.S. and meet with people who are excited about study and travel abroad; though even those who don’t know much about the subject make for great conversations (and converts). Of course, one of the great parts of the job is the ability to visit different countries and cultures, which has greatly contributed to my personal growth and professional development.



WE: How do you feel that universities and organizations can best change the face of international education?

JJ: I think that it is in the best interest of all stakeholders in education (students, parents, advisors, universities, organizations, host institutions, etc) to promote cross-cultural awareness and understanding, and one of the best ways to achieve this is through study abroad. Many colleges, universities, and academic departments encourage and/or require some form of international experience from their students, which is a great step towards changing the face of international education.

In addition to encouraging students to study abroad, I believe that it is important for API and others in the field to continue to develop opportunities in non-traditional locations – whether that be in areas such as the Middle East, Africa, Asia, or Latin America, or non-traditional locations in traditional areas (such as Bilbao or Cadiz in Spain; Leeds in England; Tuscania in Italy), or even tailored/niche programming (Arabic studies in Andalucia, Sustainability in Costa Rica, Tourism in southern France, Pre-Med in Dublin, etc).

Working to enhance the study abroad experience through educational and technical innovations will also open doors for new groups of students by helping them to more efficiently apply, prepare for, and learn about their programs prior to departure (and in a similar vein enable their advisors to better monitor their progress and guide them through the process). Finding ways to incorporate the increasingly omnipresent social and communication technologies into the learning experience in a positive way prior to departure and upon reentry, and minimizing it when necessary on-site, is another challenge that we are constantly addressing.

Through academic and professional organizations (such as FORUM, AIEA, and NAFSA), universities and study abroad organizations are able to learn best practices, share knowledge and resources, and advocate for international education to their students, administrators, and elected officials. API attempts to get involved with these and other like-minded organizations in order to contribute to the field of international education through leadership, research, and presentational opportunities.



WE: How can international educators - and travelers - promote intercultural and diversity issues? How can they promote these activities and move forward with intercultural knowledge and cultural diplomacy?

JJ: Having an open mind and a willingness to experience new things is very important, but it also helps to be prepared/equipped with tools to succeed in such a quest.

API strives to create study abroad opportunities for students to help them maximize their international experience – from the contact and resources provided to them prior to departure, to the carefully designed cultural events, excursions, and other complementary learning activities, to professional development and environmental awareness initiatives (such as our travel writing and carbon offset programs).

API is also committed to finding opportunities for its students to contribute to the communities in which they are living and learning abroad. Each semester, API on-site directors organize an “API Gives Back Project” to promote greater understanding of local dynamics and provide further insight into the host culture. Projects are often dedicated to supporting those in need or promoting environmental sustainability. For example, students have participated in beach beautification projects in Italy and worked to promote the preservation of salt marshes in Spain. API students in other sites have painted local orphanages, organized theatrical events for seniors and children, and donated their time to support community organizations providing services to disabled children and adults. It is our hope that these experiences will promote integration and intercultural awareness between our students and the host community.



WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

JJ: First, I would like to thank the Wandering Educators website for serving as a voice for all the impassioned international educators out there!
At API, we think that it’s an exciting time to be involved in international education.  Every day it becomes more apparent just how important a global perspective is within our interconnected world. We applaud the efforts of universities and study abroad offices to expand international opportunities among their students and faculty. That said, I would encourage colleges and universities to consider the advantages and benefits of working with study abroad program providers.  Organizations like API, with well-trained directors in each of our sites abroad, have extensive experience coordinating logistics and responding to both perceived and real onsite emergencies. We have the resources to make the study abroad experience as enjoyable, educational, and safe as possible, and we’re prepared to help the college/university community achieve its goals toward campus internationalization while simultaneously minimizing exposure to risk!



WE: Thanks so much, Jeramy! We're extremely impressed with the work you are doing at API, and are so pleased to share this with our Wandering Educators.


Click here to see all of our international education profile features, in Profiles in International Education: A Compendium