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Global U
Spotlight on Learning, Discovery, and Engagement

Dear Friends,

Timing is everything. Despite earning a scholarship, some students are still unable to participate in study abroad because they lack the upfront funds to pay for deposits and airfare, particularly when these deadlines precede distribution of financial aid. That’s where innovation—or a great idea—came in to maximize your scholarship gifts and enable success. The creative staff in the Learning Abroad Center came up with the Bridging Loan Program, a great idea that enables students to cover these costs later, without added interest or fees. The Learning Abroad Center delays billing and covers flight costs until the students’ financial aid is available. So far, more than 100 high-need students have benefited from this opportunity. The Bridging Loan Program is a great model for other schools, and was recently honored by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with its Andrew Heiskell Honorable Mention for Innovation in International Education.

This is just one example of a great idea that I can leverage with your support of the GPS Alliance Strategic Directions Fund, which provides flexible resources to respond quickly to emerging opportunities. These timely investments will help ensure that great ideas like the Bridging Loan Program do not become lost opportunities. Be a philanthropic partner with the GPS Alliance and make a positive impact on our students, our campus, and our world! 

Meredith McQuaid signature
Meredith McQuaid
Associate Vice President and Dean
of International Programs

Four Days, 12,000 Miles, and One Job Offer

Would you fly half-way around the world to interview for an internship...during finals week? That’s what Peiyu Chen did. Peiyu came to the University of Minnesota from China because of its great academic reputation. The senior math major took advantage of the many opportunities on campus—like advising, career counseling, and student groups—and ultimately found her passion in actuarial science. Last summer she set out to find the perfect internship. There was one snag...the interview was scheduled in Beijing during finals week. Luckily, she had a small window—four days—between finals and was able to fly to Beijing, participate in the interview, fly back to Minnesota, and take her exams on time. Two weeks later she found out she was chosen for the internship at Deloitte China’s Beijing Office.

Peiyu speaks at the scholarship reception

At an International Student Scholarship Reception last fall, Peiyu told her fellow students, “The University of Minnesota has made me into who I am today: a strong and confident job candidate who is ready for new adventures.”

Thanks to your support of the Raj Dutt Scholarship, which provides much-needed financial assistance to international students from around the world, more students will be ready for their new adventures—just like Peiyu.

Play videoWatch Peiyu talk about her experiences at the U of M and her adventure to interview with Deloitte China.


May 14-17, 2105
Icelandic National League of North America (INL) Convention
The INL will hold its annual convention in Minneapolis in 2015. New this year is an education and research day on May 15 when U of M faculty with connections in Iceland will present panel discussions on education, health, and energy and the environment. Registration is now open.

October 20, 2015
Judd Fellows Expo
Mark your calendars for this annual event where you can hear about the life-changing and career-enhancing international experiences your philanthropy has supported.
4:30-6:30 p.m.
McNamara Alumni Center

Alumnus takes place on the world stage

Habib Essid

U of M alumnus Habib Essid ('75, M.S. Agricultural Economics) was appointed Prime Minister of Tunisia in January, following the country’s first free elections in fall 2014. He is currently setting up a coalition government, in the latest step in Tunisia’s transition to full democracy following a 2011 uprising.

Read the 2008 article in Minnesota Magazine about Essid’s role leading the International Olive Council, which represents countries producing the majority of olive products in the world.

The Neanderthals are coming!

What does former Slovak politician Alexander Dubcek have to do with Neanderthals? A lot, actually! A fund established in Dubcek’s name supports academic engagement between the University of Minnesota and the countries of Eastern Europe. A recent recipient of the funding is Dr. Ellery Frahm, a research assistant in anthropology and earth sciences who is conducting research to understand the difference in behavior of Neanderthals between the Lower and Middle Paleolithic periods and the Upper Paleolithic period.

Funding from the GPS Alliance allowed Dr. Frahm to travel to Armenia to select artifacts from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography to bring back to Minnesota for further study and to collect sediment samples to determine the types of vegetation present during those periods. Dr. Frahm expects that this trip and the subsequent analysis will result in a series of publications to share what he has discovered and to enrich the field. With the help of generous donors like you, the GPS Alliance proudly supports innovative projects such as this one that connect the University with research and resources around the world.

Did you know? Traces of Neanderthal DNA—between 1 and 4 percent—are found in all modern humans outside of Africa.

Obsidian artifacts
Obsidian artifacts excavated from a Middle Palaeolithic cave in Armenia.

New Year’s tradition opens doors to China

Red Pockets with moneyOn February 19, Chinese people all around the world will celebrate New Year’s and welcome the Year of the Ram. They will visit relatives, eat traditional food, and put gifts of money in red envelopes (or “red pockets” in Chinese) for children—an old and respected tradition. You, too, can make this a part of your new year’s tradition and support student experiences in China. The Red Pockets Scholarship provides funding for students to study in Greater China. Last summer, 10 students received Red Pockets Scholarships, including Allison Malmsten who studied in Beijing:

“Within Beijing there is a sort of hectic way of living daily life that could not be found back home. Going to the nearby shops, jumping onto an already full subway car, finding tiny hole-in-the-wall shops, and the brand new twelve-story shopping malls…all of it makes me wish to go back.”

Students are applying for scholarships right now to go abroad this summer. “Fill” a red pocket today, and your support will immediately send more students like Allison to China this summer and beyond.

Minnesota-Free University Exchange

The student exchange between the University of Minnesota and Freie Universität (Free University) in Berlin is the oldest continuous exchange program at the University of Minnesota. Much has changed in Berlin since the exchange began in 1952, and much has changed with the exchange too. Both FU and the U of M regularly had more students who wanted to participate than the exchange could accommodate in its original 1-to-1 model. A new model allows more students—up to five from each side—to participate, expanding opportunities for this long-standing partnership.

Look at photosSee photos from the 60th anniversary celebration
of the Minnesota-FU exchange in 2012.

German students enjoy Minnesota nice

Johannes Lenschow (political science) and Jannik Reitenbach (American politics and history) are German students studying at the University of Minnesota this year as part of the Minnesota-FU exchange.

What are you studying at the U of M?
Johannes: Mainly political science classes. I am taking "government and markets" this semester and I took "global institutions of power: IMF, World Bank and WTO" last semester.
Jannik: I've mostly taken courses on American politics. The Department of Political Science offers so many interesting courses that I could never have taken in Germany (Supreme Court, Political Psychology, the role of religion in the founding of the U.S.).

Why did you decide to come to the U of M?
Johannes: The offered study programs and courses sounded interesting and promising. Also the U is a quite prestigious university in the U.S., and I had the impression that the Twin Cities would be a nice metro area to live in.

What has surprised you about Minnesota?
Johannes: To be honest, I did not know a lot of things about Minnesota before I got here. I think it is an underrated state, as people from outside the U.S. mainly focus on the east and west coasts. I was surprised how liberal and diverse the Twin Cities actually are.

What will you miss when you go home?
Johannes: The vibrant campus life. The extent to which the life and activities on campus unfold at the U have astonished me, but I have been enjoying it a lot.
Jannik: All the friends I made in Minneapolis. People really are Minnesota nice here!

What would you tell other FU students who might want to come to Minnesota?
Jannik: If you choose Minnesota, bring a warm coat, don't miss the state fair, and definitely enroll for one of the camping trips offered by the Outdoor Center. Canoeing in the Boundary Waters was maybe the best experience I had, and I saw more bald eagles than I could count.

Setting off on a canoe trip

Looking to the past to find the future

The Minnesota-FU exchange was founded by students in 1952, but not much else is known about the history of the program. Alumnus Doug Nygren (BA '70) has set out to change that.

Nygren, an exchange student in 1967-68, has returned to Berlin for six months, which has ignited his passion to trace the impact of the exchange on those who participated in it.

I am enjoying myself here. Have written a short story in German called, "Kafka Saved My Life." ... Every morning I get up about six. Make coffee and get writing by 8. It is an incredible experience to do this.

His experience in Germany as a student had a profound impact on him, and he wondered what the impact was for other students. “Between us, we have a collective memory of Berlin’s history starting in 1952 when the exchange program began,” he wrote.

After graduation, Nygren went on to a 30-year career as a child, adolescent, and family therapist at the famed Clifford Beers Clinic in New Haven, Connecticut. He says the year he spent in Berlin coupled with the education he received at the University of Minnesota influenced how he sees and thinks about the world. “When I defended my senior essay, I was asked what the most important thing was that I had learned from studying at the U. I still recall my answer: ‘I see the world in shades of grey. Rarely is it black and white anymore.’ I still feel that way.”

We’ll keep you updated as Doug discovers more about the exchange and its impact. If you have information about the exchange you’d like to share with Doug, please contact Meaka Pitschka at

I ♥ my job

Bria SchurkeJudd Fellow Bria Schurke is living and interning in Rwanda as a communications fellow for nonprofit organization, Gardens for Health. Her experience is supported in part by the GPS Alliance’s Walter H. Judd International Graduate and Professional Fellowships. “This is my dream job wrapped up in one. It’s an awesome community of people to work with, both our participants and my co-workers,” Bria says of her experience so far.

Bria—a master of public health student focusing on maternal and child global health—spends half of her time at the Gardens for Health headquarters, located on a beautiful demonstration farm, developing a pilot project to prevent malnutrition in babies. The focal point of the program is teaching mothers how to build and grow a home garden that produces nutritious food for a balanced diet. The other half of her time is spent in the volcano area of northern Rwanda where she is interviewing mothers and creating a short documentary.

Although Rwanda is doing very well in many regards, 44 percent of its children are chronically malnourished. Gardens for Health focuses on alleviating malnutrition in children through sustainable agricultural-based approaches. Follow Bria’s posts and photos on the Gardens for Health Facebook page for updates on the program.

Why I Give: Alexandra Kotze

Alex Kotze graduated from the U of M in 1998 with a major in Spanish and Portuguese. She studied abroad in the Dominican Republic and Argentina. She is Chief Financial Officer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services. She makes regular donations to the Learning Abroad Alumni Fund through electronic funds transfer each month.

What impact did studying abroad have on you personally and/or professionally?
It had such a profound impact I am not sure where to start. Before I studied abroad I had only been out of the country once and really I had barely left the Midwest. Since my first study abroad experience, I have travelled every chance I get. Studying abroad really shaped how I see the world and who I am today. I show my daughters photos from my trips and tell them about all the places I have seen and amazing experiences I've had. I also made lifelong friends that I still am in touch with.

What would you tell students today about the value of study abroad?
First – DO IT!!!! You won’t regret it. You may regret not taking the risk though. Also, studying abroad can be a life-changing experience at its very best. At the worst, you will have many stories to tell for years to come! Studying abroad and getting a different cultural experience is such an important part of our global world. Plus the things you learn, friends you make, and experiences you have can never be gained in a classroom.

Why did you choose to support learning abroad?
Travel and international experience is such an important part of what made me who I am today. For me this was a clear choice when I had the means to give back. If my contribution helps even one student have an experience like I had, then it is worth it. Skipping one coffee and scone a month will help a student at the U see the world and have amazing experiences. That is worth it!

What's the benefit of making a gift through EFT?
It’s easy. I never think about it and it becomes a part of our monthly household budget.

Alex and her family in Spain
Alex and her family during a trip to Spain

High and low tempsG’Day Winter!

A group of Australian students braved some of the coldest—and the warmest—Minnesota winter as part of the first GO Minnesota Winter Sports enrichment seminar in January. Some of the students had never seen snow, but they got the full Minnesota experience as they went ice climbing, winter camping, snow tubing, ice fishing, and more.

Spread the word! Do you know any international students abroad who might want to study in Minnesota for a summer, semester, or a short-term seminar like the Winter Sports program? Tell them about GO Minnesota!

Ice climbing
Students try ice climbing during the Winter Sports seminar.
Check out more photos on Instagram.

Name a favorite global program in your estate plans

Sample bequest language: “I give [the sum, percentage, or description of property] to the University of Minnesota Foundation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, to be used for the benefit of the [name of campus, college or program].”

For more information on ways to support the exchange through your estate plans, contact Diane Young, GPS Alliance development director, at 612-624-8819 or at

Your philanthropic investment in the GPS Alliance Strategic Directions Fund will nurture “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!
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