Study Abroad Alumni International — SAAI

A Community of Global Citizens

About Study Abroad Alumni International


Welcome To

Study Abroad Alumni International

Building a Community of Global Citizens

December 2010

Thank you for visiting SAAI. Over the past fifty years, millions of our fellow U.S. citizens have participated in study abroad programs, at the high school, undergraduate, and postgraduate level.  These programs typically range from a few weeks to a single semester to a full academic year.  Many others have participated in a wide variety of cultural immersion or life-long learning programs.  Moreover, many millions of citizens from other countries have seen their lives enriched and their minds expanded through a life-changing education abroad experience.

Almost universally, participants in these programs report that the experience had a positively profound and lasting impact on their lives and careers.  Unfortunately, until the formation of SAAI no organization existed to unite all of these study abroad alumni into a single, worldwide society.  With the world in a seemingly constant state of chaos and unrelenting conflict, now more than ever the United States and the greater world community need to cultivate and encourage international and cross-cultural understanding among all citizens of the world.

With this in mind, I am delighted to announce the formation of a new organization called Study Abroad Alumni International (SAAI).  We have received our Certificate of Incorporation from the state of New York.  Here is the stated purpose of SAAI as submitted to New York’s Department of State:

PURPOSE:  AN INTERNATIONAL MEMBERSHIP ORGANIZATION CONSISTING OF ALUMNI OF SOME TYPE OF STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE AND OTHERS WHO ACTIVELY SUPPORT THE STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE.  SAAI IS DEDICATED TO FOSTERING INTERNATIONAL FRIENDSHIP & UNDERSTANDING, CREATING A MORE PEACEFUL WORLD, AND BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF GLOBAL CITIZENS BY SERVING THE WORLDWIDE STUDY ABROAD COMMUNITY, HIGHLIGHTING STUDY ABROAD ALUMNI SUCCESS STORIES, PROMOTING STUDY ABROAD OPPORTUNITIES, AND PROVIDING SCHOLARSHIPS AND OTHER KINDS OF SUPPORT FOR STUDY ABROAD PARTICIPANTS.

Here are some of the priorities and initiatives SAAI will support in the coming years:

  • Create an active national and international community of study abroad alumni from all walks of life (including business, academia, science, government, and entertainment);
  • Serve as a strong, independent voice of support and advocacy for study abroad and other cultural exchange programs;
  • Provide scholarships and other forms of financial support for students who want to participate in study abroad programs;
  • Provide ongoing opportunities for high-profile study abroad alumni in various fields to share with the media, public officials, and the general public their personal experience with and support for study abroad programs;
  • Publicize study abroad success stories;
  • Sponsor appropriate conferences, publications, and web-based forums to enable members to share—with one another and with other key audiences—the value of their study abroad experiences;
  • Establish a network of state and local (and international) Study Abroad Alumni chapters with close ties to like-minded organizations and educational institutions;
  • Forge a wide range of mutually beneficial partnerships with educational institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and other appropriate international organizations (for example, campus-based and other study abroad alumni organizations including the Fulbright Alumni, Sister Cities International, Rotary International, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, NAFSA – Association of International Educators, National Center for International Visitors, and Coalition for Citizen Diplomacy, among others);
  • Assist in building enriched exchange and study abroad opportunities for students, faculty, and administrators.

Study Abroad Alumni International:  Membership and Administration

SAAI is very much a work in progress and we need your help to grow the organization.  We plan to be a membership organization comprised of individuals who have studied abroad, are members of affiliated organizations, or who strongly support the goals and programs of the organization.  Annual membership dues are expected to be in the $50 range.  A lower amount is anticipated for younger study abroad alumni.  Larger donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations will be encouraged and sought.

Our immediate goal is to attract the support for several hundred (or thousands!) members willing to contribute time and money to help move SAAI from concept to reality.   We have a small board of directors, an Advisory Board, and we have begun the process of applying for our 501(c)3 status with the IRS as a nonprofit educational organization.  It is anticipated that an Executive Director and several additional staff will be required to handle the work of SAAI.

A number of supporters with extensive experience in the study abroad arena have already expressed interest in helping with the establishment of SAAI either as Board members or in some other capacity.  As our planning discussions progress, we will undoubtedly consider many additional possibilities for Board and Advisory board members.  An initial list of Advisory Board members appears on this page.  A bi-partisan group of prominent Honorary Chairs should also be considered.

Study Abroad:  An Emotional Attachment

The study abroad experience is almost universally regarded as one of the most important experiences in the lives of alumni.  As a participant in the University of California’s Junior Year Abroad program in Lund, Sweden, and as the father of a student who completed a semester in Prague, I know personally that the level of emotional attachment to the study abroad experience is extremely high.  This has been confirmed by my conversations with hundreds of study abroad alumni over the years.

As a member of NAFSA’s 2003 Strategic Task Force on Education Abroad (see Securing America’s Future: Global Education for a Global Age ), I proposed formation of a Study Abroad Alumni organization.  Several of my fellow Task Force members expressed strong support for the idea.  On the day the Task Force issued its report in November 2003, I spoke by phone about this idea with former Senator Paul Simon, with whom I had worked as a congressional aide on a range of international education projects.  Senator Simon expressed strong support for the SAAI concept and encouraged me to move forward with the proposal.  His exact words were:  “It’s a great idea, Matthew.  I think you should do it.”  Tragically, Senator Simon passed away not long after that conversation.  Because of his encouragement for this project and his unwavering support over the years for foreign language and international studies programs, I consider the formation of SAAI as a lasting tribute to Senator Paul Simon.

The time has come to create an active and effective global study abroad alumni organization.  We need your help!  I hope you will support this important initiative.  Please sign up for periodic updates.  Please contact me with any ideas or suggestions.  And most of all please donate whatever you can afford right now to help us launch the organization.  Please email me directly at the email address below to work out details for making a donation at this time.  Remember:  Until we receive our nonprofit status from the IRS, donations made to SAAI may not be tax deductible.

Many thanks for your interest and support.

Sincerely,

Matthew Cossolotto

SAAI Founder and President

Contact 914-245-9721

Email: Matthew.StudyAbroadAlumni@gmail.com

About Matthew Cossolotto

Author of The Almanac of European Politics, HabitForce!, and All The World’s A Podium, Matthew Cossolotto is a former House-leadership congressional aide and senior-level speechwriter at MCI, Pepsi-Cola International, and GTE.  A study abroad student in Sweden and a former Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, Matthew participated in the Congress-Bundestag staff exchange program and served as a delegate of the American Council of Young Political Leaders to Denmark and France.  Matthew also served on NAFSA’s Strategic Task Force on Education Abroad in 2003.  His keynote “Globalize Your Locality” was published in Vital Speeches of the Day.  Matthew founded Ovations International in 1996.  Please visit www.ThePodiumPro.com for more information.

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