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International flavor adds interest to U.S. recipe for higher learning

UTC welcomes students from Kangnung National University in Gandwon-do, Korea, who are perfecting their English skills and absorbing a new cultural experience as they visit Chattanooga and the surrounding region for six weeks.

A relationship between the two institutions was initially facilitated by the Sister Cities Program. Hugh Prevost, director of the International Education Study Abroad Programs and National Student Exchange at UTC began a conversation with his counterpart, Professor Chong Soo An, Director of the Center for International Exchange at Kangnung National University. The two coordinated the American learning experience.

“This is not only an opportunity for these students, it is also an opportunity for UTC students to meet people who may look and speak differently. It is a chance to break down some of those xenophobic barriers,” Prevost said.

One of the participants is Kyong Sook, Kang, a part-time teacher, Ph.D. student, wife, and mother of 7-year old Do Hyun.

“I am really enjoying my visit at UTC. We enjoyed a basketball game. I am interested in the differences between American students and Korean students,” she said.

Kyong Sook, Kang is looking forward to visiting Atlanta where the students will meet members of the Korean community and discuss how they live in American society.

The UTC campus is committed to recruiting students, staff, and faculty from a variety of backgrounds while celebrating cultural and ethnic diversity among our entire campus community. The University’s commitment to international education sent several UTC students and faculty to India last summer, where they studied religions and culture with support from the University of Chattanooga Foundation.

“When the recent tsunami struck India, students who had been on the trip were immediately involved in a personal way; they had stayed briefly in one of the hotels in Madras that was destroyed. Many of the staff with whom they had had contact perished in the tragedy,” said Dr. Bill Harman, who coordinated the trip. “It was not some abstract, distant, irrelevant crisis, but one that struck home. The process of being a ‘global citizen’ requires such a perspective, and without travel of the sort the students did, that perspective is almost impossible to cultivate,” Harman said.

Another international student pipeline is being developed between UTC and the Tung Fang Institute of Technology of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, which signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” last November. With this document, Tung Fang Institute of Technology designates UTC as the first four-year university in the United States to offer its students an English as a Second Language (ESL) program.

In July 2005, twenty students and one instructor from Tung Fang Institute of Technology will attend a three-week ESL program specifically designed for Tung Fang Institute students. The Tung Fang Institute students will live in UTC campus area housing and will tour and visit area attractions while they are not in classes. The students will study and practice reading and writing English, and at the end of the program they will take a TOEFL test to determine if they are eligible to study at UTC as undergraduate or graduate students.

The Tung Fang Institute ESL Program is a result of two years effort on behalf of Terry Olsen, President of World Trade Society of Chattanooga. Olsen is a UTC alumnus and former Brock Scholar, and he is married to Miao-Ju Olsen (a native of Taiwan).

“Tung Fang has committed funding for the students to study at UTC,” Olsen said.“Two other schools are also interested in participating in an ESL program on campus. There is a market for this.”

Another avenue of international outreach is provided by the Education about Asia Journal, founded and edited by Dr. Lucien Ellington, Co-Director of the UTC Asia Program. Nearly 10,000 readers in 21 countries are reading Education about Asia, which began circulation in 1996. The Education about Asia Journal combines stimulating articles on various topics of Asian culture, ranging from ancient civilization to current events. Ellington was recently awarded $61,500 from the Association for Asian Studies for the production of the 2005 Education about Asia Journal.

Ellington has also received $55,000 from the Freeman Foundation and Columbia University to coordinate and teach a two-week teacher seminar on East Asia in June. The seminar is part of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) Program in which forty-eight states participate. Teachers learn about the histories and cultures of China, Japan, and the Koreas. It will be the sixth consecutive year Ellington has received Freeman Foundation funds for a NCTA seminar. The June seminar will be held at UTC.

All of these efforts reflect a collective way to link UTC students and professors with the rest of the world, according to Hugh Prevost. “Despite difficult travel restrictions for students coming to the U.S. since 9-11, there are all sorts of possibilities. If our students make friends and become more a part of the global civilization, then maybe there is hope they can learn to talk instead of going to war,” Prevost said.

January 28, 2005
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