The University of Toledo is hosting 32 international high school students for two weeks as part of the International Youth Program.
International Sister Cities and the University of Toledo partnered to introduce 16 students from Pakistan, 10 students from Japan, and 6 students from China to life in Midwest America, double the number of students from last year’s program.
The students, who arrived Sunday, will live just like American college students in UT residence halls through Aug. 6. They will be engaged in cultural activities, experiential learning, and courses in English as a second language, said Sara Clark, director of global initiatives in the UT Center for International Studies and Programs.
“Our biggest goal is that we help to develop global citizens through this program,” she said. “We want our students to learn appreciation for each other and learn appreciation for America.”
Ms. Clark said Toledo gives students an opportunity to immerse in American culture, including a visit to Sunset House.
“How we care for our elderly — that’s a very different thing for many of our students,” she said.
Freedom of the press too is a new concept for many of the 14 to 17-year-old students who might live in countries without freedom of speech. At Sunset House, students will interview residents, then write their own story.
Students will then come to The Blade, a sponsor of the program, and speak with reporters and editors.
“A lot of students are interested in the way Americans report news,” said Sammy Spann, UT assistant vice provost for international studies and programs. “How do Americans get away with talking about Trump like that? How do you get away with talking about Hillary like that?”
Toledo serves as the perfect union of city, community, and university, Mr. Spann said. The program had its start in Chicago, but it was moved to Toledo two years ago.
This year is the second year in which UT has partnered with Toledo International Sister Cities, which coordinates with cities in 13 other countries, he said.
The visit also provides the university with the opportunity to showcase itself as a future home for the students. UT offers in-state tuition for sister city students, Ms. Clark said.
“The focus is really for the future,” she said.
Mr. Spann, a board member of Toledo International Sister Cities, said he hopes the students understand that the university is a “world institution.”
“The world is theirs,” Mr. Spann said. “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.
“It’s a way for the students to get a piece of American opportunities,” he added.
And a trip to Cedar Point, a Mud Hens baseball game at Fifth Third Field, glassblowing at Toledo Museum of Art, and a backyard barbecue should just about do it.
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