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Global U
Spotlight on Learning, Discovery, and Engagement

Rewarding Innovative Ideas

The end of the school year is always a time to look back and reflect on the accomplishments of the past year. We did just that in the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance this spring when we presented the inaugural C. Eugene Allen Award for Innovative International Initiatives to two outstanding programs:

This new award recognizes faculty and staff for their innovative work to internationalize the University. In the GPS Alliance, our goal is not only to recognize outstanding initiatives like these, but also to support and encourage them. Thanks to the GPS Alliance Strategic Directions Fund, we can provide resources to kick-start more promising ideas like these. I encourage you to support the fund, and help us seed a new generation of great ideas and global leaders.

Meredith McQuaid signature

Meredith McQuaid
Associate Vice President and Dean
for International Programs

Icelandic student dances his way to new friendships

Ragnar Stefansson is a master’s student at the University of Iceland who is currently studying at the University of Minnesota. In addition to pursuing academic opportunities not available at his home institution, Ragnar is taking advantage of the University of Minnesota’s more than 800 student clubs and groups.

Ragnar says: Dancing has always been a hobby of mine. I was aware that dance clubs existed at the U of M and it was just by chance that ballroom was the first one I encountered. I’ve met great people and learnt so much, often in a way that goes well beyond the surface.

His experience in Minnesota is possible through the Val Björnson Icelandic Exchange Scholarship. Learn more about the Minnesota-Iceland exchange.
Icelandic exchange student Ragnar Stefansson
Ragnar shows off his dance moves at a recent event with the University's student organization, Ballroom Dance Club.


July 21-22, 2014
Career Integration Conference
The U of M will host the first-ever conference on integrating experience abroad into student career and life planning. International educators, career and student service professionals, industry leaders, and more will share best-practices and innovations.
Commons Hotel
More information

September 27, 2014
Confucius Institute Day
The celebration will recognize Chinese language and culture education in Minnesota. More information to come.
Ted Mann Concert Hall

October 7, 2014
Judd Fellows Expo
Hear from and interact with the 2014 Judd Fellows about their experiences abroad. View photos from the 2013 Judd Fellows Expo.
4:30-6:30 p.m.
McNamara Alumni Center

Colonial Dames Scholarship: 60 years, 800+ students, 90 countries

For more than 60 years, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Minnesota have been quietly but generously supporting a scholarship for international students at the University of Minnesota. More than $500,000 has been awarded to 800+ students from 90 countries. On April 12, the University of Minnesota hosted a celebration in honor of the 60th anniversary of this outstanding scholarship. Guests learned about the University's international agenda and watched a video about the history of the Colonial Dames Scholarship. The 2014 recipients of the scholarship spoke about the impact of the funding as well as their experience at the University of Minnesota. Learn more about the Colonial Dames Scholarship.

Watch the Colonial Dames scholarship video

International alumni reach out to new generation of Gophers

Despite the great distance, alumni around the world continue to maintain strong connections to the University of Minnesota. Last year sixteen alumni represented the U of M at student recruitment fairs in Turkey, France, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Japan, helping our recruitment team reach 6,000 more students. In April, the Japan-Minnesota Association hosted a picnic where more than 30 alumni, current students, and prospective students gathered to enjoy ohanami, the flowering of sakura trees season in Japan. Thanks to the many Global Gophers who are helping the University attract the best and brightest students from around the world!

University geophysics student in Iceland

CARLA supports language teachers in all corners of the state

This summer the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) offered nine scholarships to Minnesota K-12 language teachers to attend the 2014 CARLA summer institute program as part of a collaborative partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education. The competitive scholarship program is designed to improve foreign language and ESL instruction in Minnesota through high-quality professional development for teachers. Those selected to participate this year are teachers of French, Spanish, or English as a Second Language at schools in the metro area and communities in Greater Minnesota such as Spicer, Moose Lake, and Grand Rapids. 

One scholarship recipient shared: Working in a small community in northern Minnesota makes it difficult to portray to students the importance of learning languages. I am a one-person modern language department and it can be difficult to connect with other modern language teachers frequently.  Attending one of the CARLA institutes allows me to get and share ideas with teachers from around the state as well as allow me to bring ideas back to the community of small schools in our area.

CARLA is confident that these scholarships will directly benefit the participating teachers, and ultimately impact other teachers in their school communities and districts, leading to better language teaching and learning. You can support Minnesota K-12 language teachers by making a donation to the CARLA Director’s Fund.

International students celebrate graduation with their U family

Graduation is an exciting time for all students, but some international students aren't able to celebrate with family and friends who are far away. Thanks to International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), all graduates get to celebrate with their U "family." ISSS holds a festive graduation celebration each year to celebrate graduating international students and the end of the academic year. This year's party was held on May 16 at the Weisman Art Museum with some 200 students, staff, and family, and friends in attendance. Graduating students received a special memento from ISSS, and everyone who attended had the chance to take photos with Goldy Gopher!
ISSS winter programs for international students

Taking photos with Goldy was a highlight of the party!

Q & A: Young alumna gives back to the U

Jennifer Voelker graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2002 with a degree in finance. She made her first gift to the University in 2012 with a donation to the Learning Abroad Alumni Fund, followed by another gift in 2013.

Tell me about your experience abroad.
I studied abroad in London in the fall of 2002. It offered an opportunity that was foreign without being overwhelming, as my high school Spanish was long forgotten. The program also included an internship that helped prepare me for the transition into adulthood.

I have the fondest memories of a class where we would study Ibsen, Chekhov, and Stoppard and then see performances at some of the most intimate theaters in the city. I learned about British work culture from colleagues who were far more diverse and globally thinking than anyone I had encountered at the age of 21. However, I also have mixed feelings about my experience. I lived in a one-bedroom flat with four other girls...and I struggled to fit in with my internship role at a global investment management group.

What impact did studying abroad have for you?
The time I spent abroad as a student provided me with a sense of confidence and cultural awareness I had not yet experienced. In the past twelve years these attributes have provided me with a solid foundation; I live in NYC and continue my travels abroad. Even more importantly, time abroad at an impressionable age shaped beliefs and values that are used everyday when reading global news, understanding domestic and foreign policies, working with people who are different from me, and truly appreciating the opportunity I had while I was a student at the U of M.

What motivated you to give back through the Learning Abroad Alumni Fund, and why at this time?
Besides the financial ability to begin to donate to the Learning Abroad fund, it is my belief that many students were just like me—interested in studying abroad but maybe a bit unsure of getting out of the comfort zone of Minnesota or a focused degree program. Perhaps there are financial concerns as well. I hope that my contributions can be a small push to help those students decide to take a leap into an adventure that they will cherish and benefit from for many years to come.

John Gifford—the man behind the coffee

For eleven years John Gifford, owner of a Dunn Bros. coffee shop in Minneapolis, has donated coffee for the University's weekly Small World Coffee Hour (SWCH) that brings together international and U.S. students. As an Australian, John has a personal interest in the mission of building intercultural connections.

Unfortunately, John recently had to close his shop and is currently looking for a new location. Students from SWCH wanted to thank John for the years of wonderful coffee, so they made a video sharing their stories of why they love SWCH. For some, the event has played a key role in helping them make friends at the University or it has greatly improved their English speaking skills. For others, it's all about the tasty, bold coffee that has converted some students who previously didn't drink coffee into avid fans. Thanks, John, and we hope you find a new location near campus!

Watch the thank you video

Small World Coffee Hour is a weekly event where students gather for socializing and cultural exchange. Attendees enjoy a presentation and discussion about the theme culture, as well as traditional music, food and dance. Each event attracts around 250 students of a variety of backgrounds, a large growth from the 30 who would come when the group was first started in 1990. Learn more about Small World Coffee Hour.

Alumni and friends provide warm reception in chilly Iceland

Despite Iceland's small size, the connections to Minnesota and the University are large. Beginning more than 30 years ago, the relationship with Iceland is one of the University's longest and most-valued relationships. A delegation from the University of Minnesota, which included Provost Karen Hanson and delegates from the School of Nursing and the GPS Alliance, visited Iceland in May with a goal of beginning and expanding collaborations and building on the more than 30-year relationship.

As part of the delegation's visit, the University of Minnesota hosted a reception for alumni and friends on May 20. More than 50 alumni, friends, and recipients of the Val Björnson Scholarship for student exchange attended. The delegation was greeted warmly and heard many alumni tales from their time in Minnesota. Read more about the visit and see photos from the reception.

Oh la la! 30 years of study abroad in Montpellier, France

An impressive group of young professionals, professors, international educators, and Francophiles gathered on May 22 at Honey in Minneapolis to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Learning Abroad Center's Study Abroad in Montpellier, France, program. Alumni shared heartwarming memories of friendship and camaraderie, some that began just last year and others that have flourished over the last thirty years. Learn about how you can support Learning Abroad Center programs such as the Montpellier program.
University of Minnesota 30th anniversary celebration of study abroad in Montepellier

China 100 celebration moves from the past to the future

It's been almost a year since the University kicked off the China 100 celebration honoring the first students from China and the wealth of connections that have come since. We've learned so much about those first Chinese students and all of the bridges that have been built with China since. (Check out our history timeline!)

Now as we near the end of the celebration, we have shifted our focus to the future. The China Center hosted the China 100 Symposium: U, Minnesota, and China looking forward to the next century on April 22. 250 people from the U, business, and the community helped to make the event a success. Watch videos from the symposium, including first-hand stories from alumni.

The 13th annual Bob and Kim Griffin “Building U.S.-China Bridges Lecture” was also held on April 22. The University welcomed former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman as the keynote lecturer, where he spoke about China's current challenges and opportunities. Watch the video recording of the lecture.

There’s still time to attend events, share your story, or contribute to the China 100 celebration!

Your philanthropic investment in the GPS Alliance Strategic Directions Fund will nurture the “great ideas” that have too often withered on-the-vine for lack of a patron. This Fund provides the dean of international programs with flexible resources to respond quickly to emerging opportunities. These could include matching funds to leverage a faculty member’s research project abroad, an honorarium to bring an innovative international expert to campus, or an airline ticket for a student who gets invited to present research at an international conference. These timely investments will help ensure that great ideas no longer become lost opportunities. Be a philanthropic partner with the GPS Alliance and help make an impact on our students, our campus, and our world!
Make a gift

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