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HomeNewsInternational Education Week showcases UND’s global outreach

International Education Week showcases UND’s global outreach

Events highlight international exchange and scholarship opportunities available to students, faculty

This week, UND faculty and students are celebrating International Education Week — an initiative honoring the benefits of international exchange and scholarship.

International Education Week is a joint venture between the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education. Its purpose is to “promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences,” according to the State Department’s website.

Fulbright Program

On Tuesday, students and faculty gathered at the International Center, located in the Memorial Union, for a panel on the Fulbright Program. Established in 1946 by former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the program offers successful applicants scholarships and grants to study, conduct research or teach in over 160 countries.

Yee Han Chu, academic support and fellowship opportunities coordinator at UND and the panel’s moderator, said the Fulbright is considered “the flagship exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government,” due to its academic rigor and opportunities for networking.

The panel featured four UND professors, all of whom shared their experiences as Fulbright fellows and offered attendees advice on how to apply for the program.

Paul Sum, professor of political science and public administration at UND – who lectured and taught in Romania as a Fulbright scholar – said the program offers the world an individualized perspective of Americans.

“Fulbright is predicated on the idea of public diplomacy,” he said. “If we support and send Americans around the world in very pedestrian roles, American values will be transmitted, and that’s a very positive way for the United States to interact with the rest of the world. It puts a public face on the United States that is not often seen.”

Brian Pappas, professor and dean of UND’s School of Law, spent time in Denmark, Japan and Greece through the Fulbright program. An authority in the fields of mediation and conflict resolution, Pappas said the countries’ vastly different approaches to conflict pushed him out of his comfort zone and helped him grow as a scholar.

“You have to be a little more of a self-starter,” he said. “I had to develop relationships and start meeting with lots of different people. The meaningful connections came about because I needed to pivot and find different sources and find different opportunities for myself. I have a new understanding and appreciation for cultural differences and how to approach those. It will lead to new segments in all the classes that I teach and the mediation training I do.”

Chu told attending students that a quality Fulbright application requires months of careful planning and use of campus resources.

“I think of delivering a quality Fulbright application as delivering a child,” she said. “Take your nine months to research where you want to go. There will be a gestation period, where you are researching and making connections. You’re trying to make the argument as to why they should have you and how your background builds into this Fulbright experience.”

Study Abroad

With over 30 different countries to choose from, studying abroad is another means for UND students to expand their educational horizons.

UND offers a variety of study abroad programs, including exchange, direct enroll, affiliate provider and university directed programs, ranging in duration from two weeks to an entire academic year. Most students chose to study abroad during the summer, said Krysta Hoffman, UND’s study abroad coordinator.

Studying abroad boosts students’ personal, academic and professional growth, Hoffman continued.

“Students are faced with challenges they have to overcome — in the application process, while they’re abroad and even re-integrating into their home culture when they return,” she said. “It’s those interactions students have on the street with a local, or when they get lost at a train station somewhere in a small village in the middle of the night and can’t go anywhere – those are the growing experiences. That experience goes into their resumes, their interview skills and really sets them apart when looking for a career.

“I’ve never met a student who said they wished they hadn’t gone abroad,” she added.

Moreover, cost doesn’t have to be a barrier blocking participation.

“I would highlight our more affordable programs,” she said. “Going on exchange means you’re paying UND tuition, so those costs are the same as they currently are at UND. Sometimes you pay for room and board separately, but depending on the city, that can be more affordable than Grand Forks. We also have some locations where UND tuition is waived; in that case, it can be much more affordable if they’re going somewhere like Latin America or Eastern Europe.”

Additionally, Hoffman said, eligible students in most cases will continue to receive financial aid during their time abroad.

Hoffman hosted a discussion on Monday titled, “University Directed Study Abroad Info Session for Faculty.”

Women Around the World

Wednesday featured a panel titled “Women Around the World,” honoring women’s contributions to higher education both globally and at UND.

Soojung Kim, a native of Seoul, South Korea, and an associate professor and chair of UND’s Department of Communication, said being a role model for others in similar positions is important to her.

“I wanted to show my kids that you can be a trailblazer – a lot of the areas that I am working in are ones that international women have never reached,” she said.

Cristina Oancea, associate professor in UND’s Public Health Program, urged women to use their voices for the betterment of scholarship.

“Don’t be shy, and don’t be intimidated — nobody knows it all,” Oancea said. “We all learn and grow from each other. Learn to express your opinion in a very diplomatic and informed way. Sharing our ideas, experiences and opinions will only contribute to the richness of the final decision making process.”

“Try to find people who will support you,” added Manuela Gabriel, director of UND’s International Center. “In my case, I was always looking for a mentor — somebody who will stand by me. I’m trying to be that mentor, if students come to me and ask for help. For me, it’s very important to be collaborative and supportive toward each other.”

By: Joe Banish, UND Today

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