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Spotlight Series

Michigan State University's Global Youth Advancement Network (GYAN) introduces the Global Voices Spotlight Series as a next phase in GYAN's Global Voices brand, joining our Essay Contest and Webinar Series. This series provides a space for intergenerational conversation between young people and professionals devoted to meaningful global engagement and problem solving via research and outreach activities related to youth. Alongside recognizing contributions to youth-focused initiatives by members of the MSU Community in International Studies and Programs, and beyond, the interviews will include pointed advice from the interviewees to young people interested in pursuing their fields of study and career paths. Join in to hear voices from multiple perspectives on some of the world's most intractable challenges!

Eligible contributors to this series are:

  • MSU Students
  • MSU Faculty or Staff
  • MSU Alumni
  • Young Innovators
  • Industry Experts

If you would like to nominate yourself or a colleague to be interviewed in our Global Voices Spotlight series, please do so using the Global Voices Nomination Form.

In case you are between 18 and 35 years old and wish to become a youth interviewer, please fill out the GYAN Youth Volunteer Form. Or if you know of a motivated young person who would be a great fit, please reach out to gyaninfo(at)

Featured Spotlight: Mr. Jean-Paul Sewavi

Global Voices Spotlight features Mr. Jean-Paul Sewavi, Program Coordinator for MSU’s Office for Education Abroad, who shared insights on the importance of international education for both students and faculty.


October 28, 2022 

Abridged transcription of Mr. Jean-Paul Sewavi's interview with Jorge Pena Lozano, MSU senior of Electrical Engineering.

JORGE: Hello, welcome to Global Voices Spotlight presented by GYAN. My name is Jorge Pena and here's our guest speaker for today: Mr. Jean-Paul Sewavi, Education Abroad Program Coordinator since 2016. To start off, I want to say thank you for coming. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do here at MSU?

MR. SEWAVI: Thank you for having me. I was born and raised in Togo, a small West African country between English-speaking Ghana and French-speaking Benin. I grew up meeting people from diverse cultures, many of them missionaries since my father was a catholic teacher. In college, I developed a passion and desire to learn more from other cultures given my engagement in international initiatives such as the YMCA, hence I moved to the U.S. to pursue my master's in International and Intercultural Management. After working with global education for almost a decade, I came to MSU to support students and faculty in the day-to-day administration of educational programming in several colleges and to promote community engagement and/or service-learning education abroad programs.

JORGE: Wow, it sounds like you have lots of international experience! Why do you encourage students to go and study in a different country?

MR. SEWAVI: The benefits of studying abroad go beyond learning in a foreign classroom. It is about expanding a student's intercultural understanding. It gives students the skill to be able to interact with people from other countries. Employers are now looking for people with that kind of intercultural communication skills because no matter where you are, you'll have to interact with people who don't think the same way as you. Personally, I look at studying abroad or education abroad as an opportunity to challenge students to live, study and work in another culture. By the end, you'll be confident and excel in any situation. Education abroad also allows students to earn credit towards their major or minor requirements.

Mr. Sewavi says: "The benefits of studying abroad go beyond learning in a foreign classroom. It’s about expanding a student’s intercultural understanding, it’s an opportunity to challenge students to live, study, and work in another culture while also earning credit towards their major or minor requirements."

JORGE: I agree, because as a MSU international student myself, this experience truly teaches you skills on how to interact with people from diverse cultures, especially in the workplace. How accessible are these experiences for college students and what are the challenges one might face when studying abroad?

MR. SEWAVI: If you are interested in studying abroad, please reach out as soon as possible via email (abroad(at) or visit our office (International Center, Rm 108) so we can help you get started. We advise you to start your research at least one year beforehand so you can give yourself time to find what is possible for you financially and academically. MSU and the Office of Education Abroad offer multiple scholarships and financial aid opportunities to make this experience as accessible as possible for our students. Living in a different country can be challenging as students overcome cultural adjustments, but I would say the biggest challenge now is still the health and safety of students due to COVID-19. We truly want to support students to safely study abroad and be successful. For each program, there is an emergency contact. We also have an emergency management plan that tells you whom to contact. In case of emergencies, students can reach out to their assigned emergency contacts or call the Office of Global Safety 24/7 hotline.

International Symposium on Global Community-Engagement Learning (2019)

JORGE: What are some of your projects here at MSU that are helping Spartans have a better experience abroad, and can you talk a bit about community engagement?

MR. SEWAVI: I have a passion for community engagement and service-learning, and study abroad is experiential learning, meaning we want students to engage with locals. At MSU's Center for Community Engaged Learning, we assist faculty in intentionally incorporating more cultural learning and community engagement aspects into studying abroad programs, and that was the idea behind the development of the Learning Rubric and Best Practice Guide rubric [PDF]. It is like a guideline for faculty to use when they are interested in developing education abroad programs with a community engagement component. Additionally, three years ago, we organized a symposium on global community-engaged learning in Ghana [PDF] where 70+ faculty and students discussed how education abroad programs can collaborate with host countries.

JORGE: Thank you so much for being here and talking about your work with education abroad and community engagement!

Past Spotlight Interviews