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Global Connections

Iraqi students explore American culture during visit

July 30, 2010

You can't experience America without seeing a rodeo and a baseball game. Both activities were on the itinerary last week for the 25 young Iraqi students visiting Colorado State University through the Iraqi Young Leaders Program for Undergraduate Students.

Explore American culture, develop skills

Iraqi students visit CSU

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Iraqi students chat with local hosts at a welcoming reception in the TILT Building.

The International Education office hosted the 25 students.

Visiting Iraqi students participated in courses focused on civic engagement and social advocacy.

Gov. Bill Ritter met with the visiting Iraqi students at the state capitol.

While at CSU, students participated in a mock legislative process and met with local and state leaders.

The exchange program for college-aged students was administered by World Learning, a non-profit organization that coordinates exchange programs in more than 75 countries, and sponsored by the public affairs section of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The International Education office at the Colorado State Office of International Programs is hosting the students while they’re on campus.

The six-week program provides students with the skills they need to produce positive change in Iraq, as well as opportunities to explore American culture and share insights about their own culture with Americans.

Civic engagement, social advocacy

A total of 50 students participated in the program; they were split between Colorado State and the University of Southern Indiana. At Colorado State, courses and instruction have focused on civic engagement and social advocacy including:

  • intensive English
  • service learning
  • leadership and communication
  • community-based development

“Our academic leader, Julie Sullivan, and our logistics manager, Lynn Borngrebe along with our four CSU student mentors have done a wonderful job of introducing these Iraqi university students to the United States, said Martha Denney, director of International Education.

Lessons to take back home

“The students come with impressions of the U.S. based almost entirely on the Internet and our military presence in Iraq. Our goal is to expose them to other aspects of U.S. culture such as volunteerism, community involvement and working with people who are different from them to achieve a goal. We hope that they will take what they have learned home and see how they can begin to apply the lessons in Iraq.” 

According to World Learning, the students will reunite in early August in Washington for several additional days of training on leadership, conflict resolution, peace-building, and cultural readjustment. Students will also work in groups to develop action plans for projects that they can implement to benefit their communities and universities after returning to Iraq.

Baseball, politics, rodeo, volunteerism

While at Colorado State, students engaged in uniquely American activities such as trips to Cheyenne Frontier Days and a Colorado Rockies baseball game, a volunteer stint with Habitat for Humanity, a mock legislative process with state Representatives John Kefalas and Randy Fischer and meetings with local and state leaders including Gov. Bill Ritter.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336