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Global Experiences Help Students Expand World Views

June 18, 2012


Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is helping change Indiana's nickname from "Crossroads of America" to the "Crossroads of the World" through programs that are greatly expanding global educational experiences in engineering, science and mathematics.

The Office of Global Studies, led by Associate Dean Luchen Li, Ph.D., is enhancing global learning and diversity, with enthusiastic participation from students, faculty members and corporations.

"Nowhere is the interconnectedness of global cultures more clear than in the work places awaiting our graduates," states Li. "In addition to knowledge and technical ability within a discipline, the real world of work and citizenship now demands of our graduates exceptional leadership skills and 'global agility.' Our students' life-long success depends on global learning and global experience."

International education, Li explained, is not simply offering exchange programs, classes in language and culture or traveling abroad.

"International education consists of comprehensive programming that leads to increased awareness and understanding of the international community, global opportunities and diverse world views," he said.

Spending this spring at Japan's University of Aizu was more than a unique educational opportunity for Rose-Hulman students Dylan Kessler, Kelly Macshane and Donna Marsh. It was a trip filled with life-changing experiences.

"My experiences in Japan have greatly improved my ability to communicate, understand and relate to another culture, and have given me a unique lens to view international experiences through," stated Kessler, a junior software engineering major. "This will prove to be a very useful skill for me later in life."

Besides taking graduate-level classes at Aizu, the trio visited historic sites throughout Japan, learned about the country's culture and made friends throughout the region.

"I will be the first to admit that I had more than one reservation about studying abroad, especially in Japan," added Marsh, a senior biomedical engineering major. "I knew virtually no Japanese and thought I would not be able to make any friends, and would be counting the seconds until I was able to go home. Nevertheless, I thought this would be a great opportunity to see other parts of the world, see how others actually view Americans and America, and to put myself in a totally new situation and environment.

"My time at the University of Aizu was truly remarkable," Marsh continued. "Visiting Japan, even for this short time, has opened me up to the entire world, which previously seemed more distant and closed off. I now know that it is very possible for me to study, work and live in another part of the world and not only survive, but be happy and thrive."

This spring's experience has opened more global opportunities for the students, including the possibility of future international employment and travel.

"I know that I want to work in an international company so I can experience different cultures and meet people from new places," stated Macshane, a senior computer engineering student. "I am glad I had the opportunity to study at Aizu and learn a different style of education. I can apply what I learned to becoming a better student next year at Rose-Hulman."

                The three-month academic program is part of an expanding educational exchange between Rose-Hulman and Aizu that includes students and faculty members.