Nov. 8, 2007
By Stephen McKean
Long proud of its record in sending students abroad to pursue education, adventure and research, the Ohio University community took time Wednesday to commend the international students whose many accomplishments bring them to Athens.
President Roderick J. McDavis welcomed 73 award-winning scholars from 32 countries to an event in the Walter Hall Rotunda and praised them for "contributing so much to the excellent national and international reputation of Ohio University."
Sponsored by the Center for International Studies, International Student and Faculty Services, Phi Beta Delta and the Office of International Affairs, the event highlighted Ohio University's place as a prime destination for exceptional students from around the globe.
Coming from countries as diverse as Tanzania, China, Chile, Vietnam and Latvia, the students are pursuing degrees here on grants and scholarships from major academic foundations. Along with 17 Fulbright Foreign Student Fellows, the scholars attend with support from the Ford Foundation, Afghan Merit Scholars, AMIDEAST, Bolashak Scholars (Kazakhstan), LASPAU (Latin America), Muskie Scholars (countries of the former Soviet bloc), Beasiswa Unggulan (Indonesia) and Ping Scholars (Japan) programs.
Enrolled in 25 different academic programs ranging from physics to fine arts (with some of the more popular programs being international development, linguistics and telecommunications), each of the students chose Ohio University based on its strong reputation in their chosen field of study.
Sven Torsten Latzke, a Fulbright winner from Germany, said he came to the university because of its much-acclaimed film school. While at first needing "some time to get used to Athens because it is so small" compared to his native Stuttgart, Latzke said he has grown quite comfortable here and is more than pleased with his program.
"I am happy with the professors and especially with the other students," the future cinematographer said. "We have a very intense program."
On the importance of studying overseas, Latzke said, "It's very important (to) live as a foreigner in another country, that you experience what it's like to not (use) your native language."
Muhammad Chozin, a Ford Foundation winner from Indonesia and treasurer of the International Student Union, echoed those sentiments.
"It's a wonderful university," said the graduate student in Southeast Asian Studies. "People come here from many different cultures, many different backgrounds ... and we learn with each other about (our) differences. It's a very good place to build new relationships (for) the future."
Chozin, who is interested in environmental issues, said he feels right at home in Athens. "It's quiet, and everybody is nice," he said. "Athens is a good place for people concerned about the environment."
Associate Provost for International Affairs Josep Rota said the presence of so many distinguished scholars is invaluable to the university. "It is one of the things that makes us unique," he said, "and is one of the things we value very, very highly."
After Wednesday's gathering, Krista McCallum Beatty, interim director of International Student and Faculty Services, said Ohio University's reputation as a welcoming community for international students is well known.
"This fall, we had campus visits from representatives of the Fulbright program and Ford Foundation, and both programs view Ohio University as a great destination for their scholars," she said.
"We really are fortunate. A lot of these students would not be able to come to the U.S. if they did not come through these programs," she said. "They come for the academic programs, and the welcoming international community just enhances their experience."