Profiles in International Education: Jim Buschman

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

I am so happy today to present the second International Educator in our Profiles in International Education Series. I am excited to share the great work that is going on in international education, by speaking with incredible international educators. Today we'll talk with Jim Buschman, PhD. I first heard of Jim when I was doing my MA at Michigan State University. His impact on the study abroad programs (and the Latin American Studies Center) can still be seen today. Through his work at several different universities, Jim has helped countless numbers of students study abroad. He's currently in Berlin, directing NYU's Berlin Program - talk about working IN the field! We were lucky enough to sit down and chat with Jim before he jetted off to the U.S. - here's what he had to say...



WE: Please tell us about your background in International Education...

JB: Although I did not grow up in an international family or live abroad as a child, I had a series of overseas opportunities as a young adult:  student in Nigeria, teacher in Mexico and Brazil, interpreter for the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.  Since those days, I never believed I could be satisfied with a career that did not involve international education.  Since directing the Latin American Studies Center at Michigan State in the early 1980s, I have worked full time in study abroad administration since 1985, holding positions at Kalamazoo College, Alma College, Syracuse University and, since 2005, at NYU.



WE:  What led you to this field?

JB: Fate.  At age 18, never having been further outside the US than Ontario, I went with my family to the University of Nigeria, where my father had an assignment.  That was my freshman year of college and my introduction to international education.  Later I made the jump to Latin American Studies.  My first paycheck in international education was as SIT Resident Director in Brazil in 1978.



WE:  How do you feel that universities can best promote international education?

JB: Universities are, or should be, global by their very nature.  They typically have a highly diverse international faculty, involve themselves in many international ventures, and teach the values of internationalism.  They need to recognize their international core identity, particularly in difficult times.  They are not serving themselves well in the long run if they pull back on international education thinking they will save money.



WE:  How can international educators - and travelers - promote intercultural and diversity issues?

JB: By stretching themselves to confront the cultural differences they see.  In our work environment, we have the widest possible definitions of culture and diversity, and we need to expand the horizons of our students who typically have a more restricted notion of these concepts. For what we do, thinking in terms of white, Hispanic, Asian or black is just the beginning of the beginning. We need to help students realize how wide and diverse the world is and how they can play an effective part in it.



WE:  International Education (through Study Abroad, cultural exchange, etc.) can change the world. How can we promote these activities and move forward with intercultural knowledge and cultural diplomacy?

JB: We need to realize how far we have come, and how different the terrain is now.  In my early years in study abroad, only a very tiny fraction of students actually took part.  The 'normal' students led their lives on campus and had difficulty understanding the life-changing experiences related to them by returnees from abroad.  Now it is much more 'normal' at most schools that students will have an international experience, or more than one.  Study abroad used to be largely limited to liberal arts students, especially in language or poli sci; now we send students in nursing, engineering, education...virtually any major.  But we need to understand where these students are coming from.  Nursing students and Spanish majors may view the world in very different ways, even as each sees a need or desire to study abroad.



WE:  What is up next for you?

JB: I have always been fascinated with languages.  Living abroad and having a career in international education have given me an unusual opportunity to develop foreign language fluency, and I want to continue to make use of those skills.  I am currently enrolled in two NYU online certificate programs for language translation: one in Spanish-to-English, the other in German-to-English.  While I am not yet ready to retire, I hope that when I do, I can stay active by providing written translations for international clients. There is a particular shortage of translators into English.  Translation today is an internet-based career, and I envision setting up a business in my home.  My current assignment as Interim Director of NYU in Berlin is doing wonders for my German fluency.



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

JB: I am grateful to have had the chance, when I was a young professional, to work with some of the most outstanding international educators of that time.  Particularly at Michigan State, I learned from Dean of International Programs Ralph Smuckler; his Associate Dean Homer Higbee, for whom NAFSA's most prestigious award is named; and Study Abroad Director Chuck Gliozzo.  Then at Kalamazoo I was an assistant to Director of Foreign Study Joe Fugate.  These people taught me what they knew and gave me opportunities available to few of my peers.



WE: Thanks so much, Jim! I am grateful for the opportunity to share your work in international education with our Wandering Educators. You're an inspiration!

For more information on Jim's work, please see:


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