West Liberty University welcomed 10 new international students on campus recently as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD).

“We’re very proud to continue as a host school for the UGRAD programs since it is a competitive program that brings many benefits to campus and our academic programs,” said Mihaela Szabo, director of international student enrollment. Szabo has worked in the U.S. international student field professionally since 2006. She has been with WLU since the fall of 2008.

From left are: Nadia Ali, Pakistan; Asma Khadraoui, Tunisia; Kafa  Al-Omaisi, Yemen; Antigona Uka, Kosovo and Abdul Muneem, Pakistan.

From left, Nadia Ali, Pakistan; Asma Khadraoui, Tunisia; Kafa Al-Omaisi, Yemen; Antigona Uka, Kosovo and Abdul Muneem, Pakistan; gather in the International Student Office.

“These U.S. Department of State programs like UGRAD help us bring students on campus from smaller countries that might not otherwise have a student representation in our region and this enhances our overall student experience,” she explained.

Joining the WLU campus for 2013-2014 are Olga Melnic, Republic of Moldova; Dzmitry Yaltykhau, Belarus; Ali Nadia, Pakistan; Abdul Muneem, Pakistan; Antigona Uka, Kosovo; Ameni Gassoumi, Tunisia; Asma Khadraoui, Tunisia; Olavo Inacio, Angola; Feriel Khammoume, Algeria and Kafa Al-Omaisi, Yemen.

“Our UGRAD students are highly motivated students. Since they spend only a few semesters with us, they work hard to get the most out of their experience. UGRAD students are very engaged in both their education and the community and enjoy sharing their culture. They are curious and try to make the most of their time here,” Szabo added.

Because November is International Education Month, the students are presenting public programs all month long that feature their cultures and topics of global interest. All programs take place in the College Union, alumni room. Upcoming times, topics and presenters include:

  • 3 – 4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 11, Traditions in Pakistan, Nadia Ali, Abdul Muneem
  • 1 – 2 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12, Internationalization, Clark Egnor
  • 3 – 4 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12, My Experience in China, Joshua Smith
  • 11 a.m. – noon, Wednesday, Nov. 13, Tunisian Culture in 30 Minutes, Ameni Gassoumi
  • 3 – 4 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13, Life as a Host Family Abroad, Heather Kalb
  • 4 – 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13, From Moldova with Love, Olga Melnic
  • 2 – 3 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14, Printimaking in Budapest, Abboe, Amanda and Emily
  • 1 – 2 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 19, Belarus: Hospitality beyond Borders, Dmitry Yaltykhua
  • 3 – 4 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20, The Jewel of the Mediterranean, Asma Khadraoui
  • 1 – 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, Angola, Olavo Inacio
  • 2 – 3 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, University Life in Kuwait, Gregory Chase

The Global UGRAD program strengthens youth leaders from underserved populations across international lines, according to Szabo, who is from Transylvania and came to the U.S. as a graduate student, earning a master’s degree in public administration.

“Our international students are very involved in campus life and happy to meet members of the community,” she said. The UGRAD students are enrolled in programs like English literature, business, computers, education, and hospitality and tourism.

“West Liberty created two international houses to further facilitate the interaction between international students and American students. This living arrangement works very well and creates lifelong friendships.”

WLU also has an active International Student Club that meets weekly, plans events and outreach.

“We have a great campus for our international students and we are proud of our success. We invite the public to attend one or more of our November events to learn first hand about our global neighbors,” Szabo said.

Global UGRAD is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State and is administered by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly, and peaceful relations, as mandated by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. IREX is an international nonprofit organization providing thought leadership and innovative programs to promote positive lasting change globally. Founded in 1968, IREX has an annual portfolio of over $70 million and a staff of over 400 professionals worldwide.