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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]

Cover Story

Many keys to an international education

International flags in the administration building
Every fall, flags representing the nations from which PLU students originate are raised in a ceremony in the administration building. Currently, there are 29, including the U.S. flag.
By Bassam Bishuti

"The key to being considered an 'international university' is your international studies and foreign language courses," says Tamara Williams, professor of Spanish and the recently-appointed special assistant to the provost for international education.

It can only enhance your reputation as an international campus if you have more than just a few of such courses. For a university of its size, PLU is unique. It has many international elements:

International Studies: The main curriculum of the university offers several-major or minor-courses in international studies, including Scandinavian area studies, Chinese studies, the Americas, and global studies. Other, less obviously international courses, such as courses in the environmental studies and the music programs, can also be listed in this group because of their integrative and multicultural approaches.

Language and Literature: This is the heart of international programs par excellence. PLU has a range of these, from the expected French and Spanish, to the less customary German, Chinese, and classical (Greek and Latin), to the rather special--but, perhaps, expected at PLU--Norwegian, as well as a Scandinavian component, and courses in Sign language, and English as a Second Language.

International Core: It is difficult to find many other comparable universities with a similar program. It evolved from a number of internationally-oriented courses in several disciplines and has been known as Core II, to differentiate it from the main core of courses in the general university requirements. Its official name is very telling of its purpose--The International Core: Integrated Studies of the Contemporary World. Here is where the integration of multi-disciplinary topics and the emphasis on contemporary relevance are brought together. Course titles include the Experience of War; Energy, Resources, and Pollution; Population, Hunger, and Poverty; Cases in Third World Development; and Cultures of Racism.

Study Abroad: Opportunities for studying abroad for PLU students include the usual year-long and semester-long sojourns, but also the shorter J-Term (or January Term) experience. This makes studying abroad a possibility for "non-traditional," older or married students whose commitments do not allow longer foreign stays. The shorter trips are especially becoming more and more popular, according to Janet Moore, director of the Center for International Programs which oversees study abroad. The places that PLU students have gone to, whether for long or short terms, include the expected London and Paris, as well as the less common Trinidad, Grenada (Spain), Chengdu (China), Calcutta (India), St. Petersburg (Russia), Cuernavaca (Mexico), Hawaii and Cuba.

International Grants: PLU students can compete for several national scholarships and grants that finance their study abroad opportunities. There are also the postgraduate international grants that finance education abroad after graduation. Most prominent among these are the Fulbright, the Rhodes, the Rotary and the Marshall scholarships. Rodney Swenson, professor of German and the Fulbright representative on campus, says there have been an "impressive" 51 PLU students who have won the Fulbright and gone abroad to work on projects of their choosing. "This is an investment in peace," he says. From the other side, there are specific international grants that are available to students from foreign countries to enable them to study at PLU.

International Faculty: More than just having a faculty with a passionate worldview vision, PLU has always boasted a large number of teachers from other parts of the world, both teaching on a long-term basis and on a time-limited exchange program. A prominent name on campus is that of Peter Grosvenor, a professor of political science from Wales. Asked if there is an office on campus that may list the names of such 'foreign teachers,' Grosvenor said that there wasn't. To find them, he said, "all you need to do is look in the campus directory."

International Students: The university has a special office, called International Student Services, to look after the interests of foreign students at PLU and help them adjust to the university and the culture, as well as assist them with legal and governmental regulations. From the start, Norwegian and other Scandinavian nationals have been numerous at PLU, but an exceptional number of students have come from Hong Kong as well as China. The Business School attracts a lot of these students. A special program called IMET, for the International Multi-Cultural Experience for Teachers and Degree Candidates in Education, brings many student-teachers from Norway for a semester of cultural immersion at PLU.

International Scholars: Unlike international students, these are older and more established persons who frequently have already earned their doctorates. A large number of them are teachers. They come to PLU, sometimes only for a summer term, to conduct research or improve their English.

Co-curricular Activities: In addition to studying international themes, PLU students can participate in many other activities that look to other cultures or countries for inspiration. Among them are the Norwegian Association, the Celtic Club, the Chinese, French, German, Hawaiian, Asian Pacific Islander groups, and the Mayfest dancers who perform ethnic dances from all over the world.

Pacific Lutheran University Scene
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