Campus spotlights international education

UC Davis will host its first International Education Week - designed to get students, faculty and staff members excited about opportunities abroad - Nov. 18 through 22.

The event has been held at universities around the country for three years, with support from the U.S Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State.

With study abroad on the rise at UC Davis, Dennis Dutschke, associate vice provost for international programs, said it's the perfect time for UC Davis to begin its tradition.

"There's been a sea change in the culture," he said. Rather than students planning to study at UC Davis for four years, more and more are considering spending time in a foreign country sometime during their education.

Dutschke, also a professor in the French and Italian department, cited the 17 first-year students who have enrolled in his freshman seminar this quarter titled "Broaden Your Horizons: International Educational Issues, Opportunities and You."

"These are students committed to studying abroad," he said.

The numbers of students across the UC campuses that have studied abroad though university programs have increased over the past years, too. According to the campus's Education Abroad Center, during the 2000-01 school year 2,428 UC students enrolled in Education Abroad Programs in 35 countries from Australia and Chile to Sweden and Vietnam. Last year the numbers increased to 2,855, and this year 3,504 students are expected to participate in foreign study.

Last year's Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States spurred many American students to study abroad. They are seeking more understanding about other cultures, Dutschke said

"More and more of us are realizing that the world is very small. We come into contact with other peoples constantly."

Activities during International Education Week are expected to encourage more members of the campus community, including faculty and staff, to seek opportunities abroad.

Patti Garamendi, an Assistant Secretary for the California Technology, Trade, and Commerce Agency and a former Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, will speak from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday about the value of her international experiences.

"She's a model for what can be done," Dutschke said. "She started with the Peace Corps, became its associate director, and is now involved locally with international issues."

UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef will also host a forum on international education 7-8:30 p.m. Nov. 21. Students who attend the forum will receive a variety of information about how to make study abroad possible, re-gardless of their ma-jor, or foreign language ability, said Robert Kerr, director of international visitors and alumni programs, a coordinator of the forum.

Other events of the week will include:

  • a discussion on the Fulbright study abroad program, open to students, staff and faculty members (11 a.m. -- 1 p.m., Nov. 18);
  • a presentation on opportunities in Peace Corps service ( 1 -- 2 p.m., Nov. 18);
  • discussions on marketing overseas experiences for future careers. ( noon -- 1 p.m., Nov. 20) and exploring international careers (noon -- 1 p.m. , Nov. 21);
  • an open house at the Education Abroad Center (1-4 p.m., Nov. 21); and
  • a reception honoring Steve Browning, UC Davis' diplomat in residence. Browning is spending the year encouraging students here and at other Northern California schools to consider careers with the U.S. Department of State. (2-2:30 p.m. Nov. 21).

Universities and colleges around the country offer similar activities during the week. CSU, Fullerton, will sponsor a student essay contest with the theme, "Where does peace begin?" In Ohio, the College of Wooster's cricket team will teach local Boy Scouts about the international ball, bat and wicket sport. At Rice University in Texas, international students will visit Houston high schools to talk about education in their countries.

Vanderhoef said students who have spent six months or a year in another country seem to always evaluate it as "the most important experience" of their lives.

"I have come to realize that it is not that they now better understand a particular new culture - it's that they realize that people in other countries may have views quite different from their own, but views that are still entirely legitimate because they are exactly right for the culture in which those people grew and matured.

"This epiphany that comes through living and learning in another country is, I believe, essential to the future well-being of the world," he added.

To learn more about UC Davis' activities, call (530) 754-9707.

Media Resources

Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932,

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