Roberto Arruda, director of International Student Services and Study Abroad, shares his perspective on international education and introduces International Education Week (IEW).

The first time I heard of Berklee, I was a novice saxophone student trying to figure out how to play a middle C# in tune. It was the pre-social media era of the early nineties in Brazil. Three decades later, it is clear to me why Berklee’s reputation had such reach. I am lucky to have the insider’s perspective of Berklee’s complex internationalization structures and I am constantly impressed by the diverse ways in which this institution engages with international education.

About 40% of Berklee’s students are international, coming from over 100 countries. This very diverse student body has a significant contribution to internationalizing Berklee and students come to find an environment open to multi- and intercultural learning. In a recent conversation with Pablo Vargas, dean of Library and Learning Resources and a Berklee alumnus,  he shared that when he started at Berklee as a student, he came prepared to study and play jazz, but to his surprise, he found a community very interested in his Colombian background and music. I have heard many stories similar to Pablo’s, and this international interest from the Berklee community is also confirmed by an academic approach infused with international and intercultural perspectives. Some great examples are the Minor in Latin Music, Berklee Global Jazz Institute, the Mediterranean Music Institute and minor, and Minor in Music and Society: Global Studies Track

I have also been trying to understand the full impact of Berklee’s presence around the globe. There are multiple ways in which artists can engage with Berklee outside the U.S., including its campus in Valencia, Spain; Berklee global partners; and programs like Berklee on the Road and Berklee Latino. I’m still learning about of Berklee’s cross-border initiatives, from an international branch campus and a center in Abu Dhabi to an affiliate network and the massive virtual presence of Berklee Online, and so far it has been a fascinating and enjoyable challenge. 

November 13 kicks off International Education Week (IEW). The U.S. Department of State and Department of Education set this year’s theme as The Future is… This is a great opportunity to engage in conversations to learn and reflect on Berklee’s path toward comprehensive internationalization. We hope that the whole Berklee community can take advantage of the sessions, workshops, and digital content specially curated to celebrate IEW. Internationalization is a process, a means to an end, and it impacts the whole campus. Check out the IEW schedule and get involved with the international community. Berklee is at a mature stage of internationalization with no signs of slowing down. I only hope that I can pursue mastery of that C# with the same determination.