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Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

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International honorees reflect on shattered stereotypes


Before arriving at Ohio University, Afghan native Farid Momand’s impression of Americans was based on their military occupation of his homeland.

“I was thinking U.S. people would be like soldiers,” he said. “When I came here, it was much different. People were really friendly and nice.”

Momand was among the international scholars honored Friday, Oct. 22, at the 2010 Sponsored International Student Reception, and his sentiments were widely echoed in the event’s lively round-table.

“International students are always surprised at how nice we are. The perception of the American people and the reality are very different,” reflected Daniel Weiner, executive director of the Center for International Studies.

In its fourth year, the Sponsored Student Reception was sponsored by the Center for International Studies and the Office of International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS). Its intent, according to ISFS Director Krista McCallum-Beatty is to recognize nationally- and internationally-competitive award winners who are currently studying at Ohio University.

“Here at OU, we’re very proud of our domestic students who get Fulbright’s to go abroad. What a lot of people don’t recognize is that even more students receive Fulbrights to come here,” she said.

Currently, Ohio University is home to 1,480 international students, more than 80 of whom are sponsored through nationally competitive awards. At the same time, 90 domestic students from Ohio University are studying in 38 countries around the globe this quarter.

These types of international student exchanges put preconceived notions to the test on both ends, said Thom Luce, chair of the university’s International Council, in his keynote address.

“We all end up having preconceived ideas…Being with us, sharing with us can help break down some of those stereotypes,” he said.

In his address, Weiner emphasized the importance of global encounters in the university experience and encouraged international students to immerse themselves in American culture.

“They will learn so much from you, and you will learn so much from them. It will really enrich your experience,” he said.

Groups honored at the 2010 Sponsored Student Reception include:

•    Afghan Merit Scholars
•    AMIDEAST Scholars
•    Bolashak Scholars
•    Ford Foundation International Fellows
•    Fulbright Scholars
•    Guyana Scholars
•    LASPAU Scholars
•    Muskie Scholars
•    Ping Scholars
•    Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission Scholars

Revelations

"What was your biggest surprise?"

This was the question posed to OHIO's international contingent of nationally-competitive award winners at Friday's Sponsored Student Reception. Read on for a sampling of what students had to say about OHIO's biggest revelations.

Technology: There is a lot of talking to machines.

Security: Doors never seem to be locked.

 Attitudes: People are more friendly than expected.

Awareness: People generally don't seem to know about other parts of the world.

Wildlife: "It's like a zoo!"

The library system: "You can borrow as many books as you can carry!"

Relations: "I found the relationship between the students and faculty very amazing."