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Two University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students have recently been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to help pay for the cost of studying abroad.

Both Ger Xiong and Joseph King received $5,000 for their trips to Japan and England, respectively. The scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The mission of the Gilman Scholarship is to make studying abroad easier and more accessible to those who couldn’t ordinarily afford to make the trip.

“I’m really proud of these two students for being awarded this scholarship. I served on the Gilman Panel this past April and helped determine who would receive scholarships for the summer term. There were a lot of great essays so I know first-hand how competitive this program is,” said Kelsey McDaniels, study away coordinator in the Office of International Education at UW Oshkosh. “These students definitely deserved this award, I know they’ll both do great things during their time abroad and after. Part of being a Gilman Scholar requires the students to complete a follow-on service project at their home campus to promote study abroad when they return. I think they will make great advocates and I look forward to seeing their projects take form.”

Both Xiong and King said they heard about the scholarship through the Office of International Education.

“They are a wonderful resource in finding funds for studying abroad,” Xiong said.

Xiong will be traveling to the University of Nagasaki Siebold where he will add credits to his Japanese studies major.

Studying abroad can sometimes seem like a daunting endeavor– one that is out of reach, too expensive or uncomfortably different. But there are as many reasons to study abroad as there are excuses to avoid it, UW Oshkosh study abroad representatives and students agree.

“I feel that studying abroad is important because as a student, you have so many opportunities to take these trips, where in the future you may be too busy to even think about taking such a trip, especially for the lengths of time that study abroad offers,” King said. “I have heard the excuses before, about how it is not for me or I cannot afford it, but through determination, hard work and applying for as many scholarships as you can, it is something that you can achieve.”

Although this will be his first time leaving North America, King said he is excited to study theatre at St. Mary’s University in London.

“I think it is an important cultural experience that everyone should have,” King said. “We as a society sometimes get stuck in our own culture and do not have the opportunity to think outside of our country. Studying abroad helps us to gain new cultural experiences to share with others.”

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