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President Higdon at Peace Corps Expo: 'International perspectives are an educational necessity'

Leo I. Higdon Jr. in Malawi during his service in the Peace Corps
Leo I. Higdon Jr. in Malawi during his service in the Peace Corps

In a keynote speech at the Peace Corps' "Third Goal Expo: Building Global Communities" in Providence, R.I., last weekend, President Leo I. Higdon Jr. told attendees the ability to bring an international perspective to issues and problems is an educational necessity, not an option.

"Today's students are graduating into a global economy. Their education not only needs to prepare them for the concrete demands of leadership, communication and innovation, they also need to know the fundamental values for success: how to learn, how to listen and how to adapt," he said.

Read the full text of Higdon's keynote address.

Higdon and his wife, Ann, were Peace Corps volunteers who taught school in Chiradzulu, Malawi, from 1968 to 1970. He said the experience shaped them and taught them important lessons they have counted on throughout their adult lives.

"These lessons - about the importance of culture, the global nature of our world, the importance of communication - were lessons that opened our minds and broadened our attitudes," Higdon said.

Higdon told attendees he has incorporated those lessons into his careers as an investment banker and an educational leader. His leadership in internationalizing the education at Connecticut College was a deciding factor in inviting him to present the keynote, according to Anne Baker, vice president of the National Peace Corps Association.

"Connecticut College is a top producer of Fulbrights, a top producer of Peace Corps volunteers among small colleges and universities and a winner of the Senator Paul A. Simon Award for Campus Internationalization. The College has also earned a spot on the President's Community Service Honor Roll, with distinction," Baker said. "We are particularly pleased to have Lee Higdon with us today because he is a returned Peace Corps volunteer who truly embodies the Third Goal of Peace Corps - bringing the world back home. He has made it possible for young people to graduate with a global mindset."

The Providence Expo was one of a series of four Third Goal Expos in major U.S. cities that were designed to promote the third part of the Peace Corps' mission: bringing the world back home. The expos include information and exhibits about countries where Peace Corps volunteers have served as well as discussions about the experiences and projects of individual volunteers.

September 27, 2012