The MU International Center continues to make exploring the world a reality for MU students, faculty and staff. This summer marks the beginning of the second year that the International Center is a U.S. Department of State designated passport application acceptance facility. The International Center’s passport facility is a one-stop shop, conveniently offering passport and photo services for anyone on the MU campus.
“For our students, faculty and staff to engage with the world, they need to understand that everything we do crosses borders,” says Jim Scott, director of the International Center and interim vice provost of International Programs. “Ninety-five percent of the world’s population lives outside of the United States. Traveling abroad gives people a conceptual framework and structure to understand our own culture better and to be more understanding and empathetic toward other cultures.”
“Traveling abroad gives people a conceptual framework and structure to understand our own culture better and to be more understanding and empathetic toward other cultures.”
- Jim Scott, director of the MU International Center
At the International Center, U.S. citizens can apply for passports and take their passport photos during the same appointment. Pat Beckman, associate director of sports medicine for Mizzou Athletics, who used the passport services to obtain his passport says that the on-campus service eliminated a lot of the stress often associated with the passport application process.
“The whole process was extremely easy,” Beckman says. “It was convenient to be able to do everything on campus and not have to go to the post office. I had an appointment set up in advance and did not have to wait in line once I arrived. They were able to complete the entire process, including taking a photo and helping me complete the application. I would recommend that any student or staff that needs a passport would go to the International Center.”
Beckman completed the passport application along with members of the Mizzou men’s basketball team. He says the team will travel abroad to Italy to play several games and will tour different parts of Italy, learning about the culture.
According to Scott, the International Center’s role is to give advice on all things international.
“While our passport services do offer convenience to our students and our staff on campus, we are here to support them during the entire travel abroad experience,” Scott says. “We can provide information and guidance on travel issues that you cannot get at other passport application locations such as the post office.”
This summer also marks the second year of the International Center’s Operation Passport initiative. The program, designed to encourage students to begin planning for study abroad early in their time at MU, engages incoming freshmen before they arrive on campus. Thanks to the generosity of donor Ed Smith, new Tigers will receive information over the summer about study abroad opportunities at Mizzou.
“The program encourages a different kind of conversation with the incoming students,” Scott says. “This initiative is part of our overall goal to grow the number of Mizzou students who study abroad from 20 percent to 30 percent. We want to start the conversation on studying abroad early in their academic careers. The idea is that they will start thinking about studying abroad as soon as possible and plan it into their time at Mizzou.”
In addition, the program provides passport scholarships to first-time college freshmen. Eligible students who present a passport by Oct. 31 will receive a $135 scholarship that may be applied to a future approved study abroad experience. The goal of the program is to encourage students to think about and take the first step to studying abroad. In effect, the study abroad scholarship covers the cost of a new passport.
- Present a passport by Oct. 31
- Receive a $135 study-abroad scholarship
Scott says that many students are under the misconception that studying abroad will impact their ability to complete their degrees on time. MU offers more than 250 study abroad programs in about 50 countries. The programs vary in length and the time of year they are available.
Scott says that faculty and staff are key components in encouraging students to participate in study abroad programs.
“Not only do our faculty lead many of the study abroad programs; they are crucial in promoting study abroad,” Scott says. “We encourage faculty to host our International Center classroom presentation to give students exposure to studying abroad options. They also can inspire students to study abroad simply through sharing their own experiences of travel.”
To learn more about the passport services and view a list of all required documents for the application process, visit: international.missouri.edu/passport.