Call it international learning. Call it a hands-on global lab. Call it MISTI.

The MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) prepares students to live and work across the globe by offering internships in Japan, China, Germany, India, Italy, and France.

After two years of intense instruction in the language, culture, history, and politics of a country, students spend two to 12 months of hands-on work in labs and offices across the globe. Students have taught Internet technology at a high school in China; conducted speech therapy research in Kyoto; and designed sensor technologies at a worldwide company in Stuttgart. They write technical papers, present at professional meetings, and file patents –– all in Chinese, Italian, Japanese, or German.

Students say the internships are great because for the first time they’re treated not as students but as professionals; they learn the business practices of another country; and they have the chance to establish colleagues around the world. It opens your mind, they say, and enhances your creativity; observing how people in other cultures solve problems fills you with new ideas. You discover how to communicate, listen, trust each other; and once you transcend cultural differences, they say, somehow you begin to focus less on how we are different than on how we are the same.

“Students must be global citizens able to live, work, communicate, and innovate outside their home countries,” says Political Science Prof. Suzanne Berger, who directs the MISTI program. “To prepare students with first-hand experience in foreign societies is one of our main responsibilities in educating tomorrow’s leaders.”

The students on these pages say the MISTI internships helped them to discover not only the world but that our diversity can be our greatest strength.