Inspiring students through international experiences

Inspiring students through international experiences

Northwest Nazarene University
Jul 11, 2017

Matthew Chitwood graduated from NNU in 2004 with Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and an emphasis in Global Management. His most memorable experience during his undergrad years was the semester he spent studying abroad in Central America. This experience was a time of transformation for Chitwood as he was challenged to pursue life choices that aligned with his life purpose and how to live that out practically. Studying abroad gave him a passion for international travel and education, which he has been pursuing in China ever since.

“More than anything, NNU for me was a time of exploring and discovering my identity and personal character. Yes, there were books to read and exams to take, but at the heart of these academic efforts was a deeper purpose to refine my very being,” Chitwood said, reflecting on his time at NNU.

His work experience spans the business, education and nonprofit sectors: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship Program, Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) and Asia International, just to name a few. He has earned a certificate in Mandarin language and culture from National Taiwan Normal University, a certificate of Chinese and American studies (coursework in Mandarin) from Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University, and a Master of Arts in China Studies and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University. He has also enjoyed teaching university-level courses.

“Matt is incredibly bright, articulate and a pleasure to work with. He learns quickly and would be an asset to any organization. As I've always said, everything Matt touches turns to gold,” said Lars Olson, a past coworker of Chitwood.

Chitwood loves discovering hard-to-access parts of China and making similar experiences available to others. He currently leads study abroad programs for Where There Be Dragons in lesser known parts of China, which involves giving students exposure to very different life perspectives and developing their abilities to navigate cross-cultural learning experiences. His goal is to help students come alive through global citizenship and the integration of faith and vocation.

Recently, Chitwood applied for and was accepted for a long-term fellowship with the Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA). ICWA is a DC-based foundation with a mission “to identify and cultivate rare potential.” To fulfill his proposal for this prestigious appointment, he will be based in Yunnan, China’s second poorest province. Chitwood will be studying and writing about changes in China’s overall economic development.

This opportunity will become a critical learning experience in achieving a goal he has been working on for the past three years to create his own study abroad program that facilitates student growth in global citizenship, self-awareness and leadership.

“I can think of nothing more meaningful than creating a study abroad program that sparks students to come alive. There is nothing better than when a student’s eyes light up because they have experienced something that triggers in them that jump from abstract theory to practical application,” commented Chitwood.

The university is proud to name Matthew Chitwood as the 2017 Leon Doane Young Alumnus.