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The future of Ohio's economy depends on its colleges and universities training students how to think internationally and to be prepared to participate in global commerce, Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut said yesterday.
During an event at Owens Community College to kick off International Education Week, Mr. Fingerhut said it's important to emphasize international education because of the cultural differences that enrich lives and communities.
But more than that, it's imperative for a successful economy.
"You are training students for jobs that will absolutely require them to participate in global commerce," he said.
"There's no question that, in the course of their successful careers, they will have to engage with people all over the world or, alternatively, they will have to show that they can do the job better than somebody else in the world."
First held in 2000, International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education that celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange.
According to the International Education Week Web site, more than 565,000 international students from more than 200 countries study in the United States each year.
Victor Diaz, 35, a native of Cuernavaca, Mexico, said in an emotional speech how much Owens' small college atmosphere and the relationship he developed with International Student Services Administrator Csar Hernndez helped him.
Mr. Diaz has an associate's degree in marketing and sales from Owens and a bachelor's degree in business and communication from the University of Toledo. He is expected to graduate in May with a master's degree in business administration from UT.
"Everything started here at Owens," he said.
Ainhoa Emaldi Azkue, 24, from the Basque area on the border of Spain and France, said she always dreamed of studying in the United States and Owens gave her that opportunity.
She received an associate's degree in commercial art from Owens and a bachelor's degree in graphic design from Bowling Green State University.
Both work in the Toledo area.
Increasing the number of international students in Ohio is an aspect of the 10-year master plan being developed to guide Ohio's university system, Mr. Fingerhut said.
He said it also would include goals of increasing the number of American students taking foreign languages, studying in foreign countries, and participating in global studies.
The state's 13 universities and 23 community colleges have the ability to prepare students individually for the global economy and also work with businesses to help make them more competitive, Mr. Fingerhut said.
"Our institutions of higher education are already the most international institutions in this state," he said.
"Our faculty, our students already represent a global perspective, so it's our obligation to take what we have and what we know and share that with the businesses of the state of Ohio to help them become more effective competitors in the global marketplace."
Owens will host other speakers and the fair-trade group Ten Thousand Villages in observance of International Education Week, among other scheduled events.
For more information about International Education Week visit http://iew.state.gov.
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