International Connections Continue to Grow at FSU

Friday, April 16, 2010

 With growth in international student enrollment, the building of partnerships with colleges and universities in other nations and increased travel abroad opportunities for students, the Fairmont State University community has more global connections than ever before.

In addition to being Inauguration Week, this week is also International Week, which is co-sponsored by the International Education Committee, the International Student Organization and Student Government.

The International Student Organization Tastes of the World on Tuesday, April 13, allowed people to mix and mingle and sample foods from different countries. Dr. Tad Kato is adviser for the International Student Organization. On Thursday, April 15, students, faculty and staff attended an International Fair and a Celtic Music Band Concert. An International Fashion Show is planned for 7 to 9 p.m. today, April 16, in the Turley Center Ballroom.

Dr. Erin Hippolyte is the Coordinator of the French program of the FSU Department of Language and Literature, Travel Abroad Adviser and Co-Chair of the International Education Committee with Geneva Hines of Pierpont Community & Technical College. Hippolyte, who has taught French at FSU for four years, grew up in Minnesota and has lived in Paris and the Caribbean. She said the goals of the International Education Committee are to develop a sense of international community on campus, increase the enrollment of international students and increase study abroad opportunities.

"People have different connections with the world," she said. "We're trying to make the idea of international education as broad as possible so more people will get involved. I have an interest in making connections. My French classes are about making friends with the world as much as learning the language itself. The idea that we have something to learn from each other is important. We are hoping that if students come here and have a good experience that they will tell others. Word of mouth is very important in international education."

At FSU, students have several different opportunities to study abroad:

  • Students can participate in FSU's exchange program with the University of Calabria in Cosenza, Italy. FSU sent its first student, Laura Bonasso of Carolina, to study in Italy during the spring 2009 semester. FSU student Jacob Alt is currently finishing his semester abroad. FSU and the University of Calabria developed an educational and cultural exchange agreement in 2007. FSU officials and faculty members have traveled to Italy several times to further build relationships and encourage Italian students to study at FSU. Those who have visited Italy include Dr. Christina Lavorata, Associate Provost; Michael Belmear, Vice President for Student Affairs; Rose Mazza, Department of Language and Literature faculty member; and Dr. Judy P. Byers, Abelina Suarez Professor of English and Folklore, Senior Level, and Director of the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center.
  • Any student interested in studying abroad can apply to the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP). The ISEP network consists of 300 colleges and universities in 42 countries. FSU student Rophe Woods spent six weeks in France.

"Choosing to study abroad was an easy decision, the opportunity to be immersed in another country is such a good experience," Woods said. "While abroad, my language skills increased immensely, and getting to experience the culture on a firsthand basis was amazing. I can see a difference in myself after studying abroad. It gives you a sense of independence, and knowing you can survive overseas in another country speaking a different language truly is a great feeling."

  • Students can participate in the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center's Roads to Appalachia program to explore Appalachian influences on culture at a global level. A two-week summer tour is the culmination of a year-long, intensive study. The 2010 tour will take participants to Eastern Europe. Past study tours have included England, Ireland and Wales as well as Italy.
  • Students can sign up for the National Student Exchange, which is a network of colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada with semester-long or year-long exchange opportunities in Puerto Rico and Quebec.
  • Students can travel abroad during spring break in March. This year, FSU's School of Business traveled to cities in Italy during spring break to monitor global business trends while the Honors Program traveled to Paris.

"Studying abroad allows students to augment their undergraduate experience. Living outside the United States helps students learn about their discipline and more about themselves. Employers are looking for individuals with international and language experience," Hippolyte said.

FSU is expanding efforts to further boost international student enrollment. Faculty and staff have traveled to Italy, Nepal, India and Turkey to build relationships with students and to let them know about opportunities available at FSU.

In November 2009, officials from Ansan College in South Korea--Dr. Kae Sook Kim and Dr. Hae Suk Kim --and FSU formalized a Study Abroad Nursing Program between the two institutions. The affiliation began in 2009 with FSU offering a Study Abroad Nursing Program for six Ansan College students. The South Korean students studied in the English as a Second Language Program and shadowed students in FSU's School of Nursing and Allied Health Administration in their classes and clinical.

Two administrators from Babylon University in Iraq--Dr. Jawad K. Al-Janabi, Vice President for Administrative and Fiscal Affairs, and Dr. Mujbil R. Merjan, Dean of the Business and Economic College--visited FSU this month. The Babylon University administrators met with officials at FSU to discuss the possible building of a relationship between the two universities. The Iraqi government has set aside funding to send Iraqi students to the U.S. to obtain higher education degrees as part of their efforts to rebuild their nation.