Thirty different foreign ambassadors, representing countries scattered across four continents, spent last Monday at IU where they spoke with IU leaders about both local and global problems that people, universities and nations can help solve.
The event was a part of “Experience America,” a program run by the U.S. Department of State.
According to an IU press release, Ambassador Sean P. Lawler, chief of protocol of the U.S., led the ambassadors on a tour of Bloomington and the University.
IU President Michael McRobbie met with the ambassadors and told them IU “fully embraces” a spirit of international understanding and cooperation, according to the release.
"Though your visit is brief, I know it will do much to help strengthen the spirit of international understanding, cooperation and friendship between Indiana, the United States and your countries," McRobbie said in the release.
McRobbie emphasized that among the 21,000 students who graduated from IU this year, 2,100 were international students from more than 136 countries, and IU teaches more than 70 different foreign languages — more than any other U.S. university.
But even with 30 ambassadors from around the world, McRobbie and Vice Provost Lauren Robel were quick to point out IU’s local contributions and collaborations, such as the Center for Rural Engagement and IU Corps.
The Center for Rural Engagement is a new initiative at IU to make use of research and skill sets availble at the University to support communities in nearby counties. The effort so far involves 550 students in 20 courses from different IU schools and departments.
Among those counties are: Owen County, Greene County, Monroe County, Brown County, Lawrence County, Washington County, Orange County, Crawford County, Dubois County, Martin County and Daviess County.
Researchers and students are working in concert to create sustainable food systems, encourage diversity and entrepreneurship, and maintain the special characteristics that make local communities in southern Indiana special.
"There are a very small number of universities that I have been able to find that are thinking comprehensively about engaging their university's research and teaching mission with communities around them," Robel said in the release.
According to the release, the issues facing rural Indiana are not different from those faced by people from around the globe. Solving issues at home can contribute to global solutions.
Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s ambassador to the U.S., said IU’s work resonates with countries around the world and said, according to the release, that he hopes it continues to grow.
"I hope you can develop a network with academics around the world with similar interests who might be able to share knowledge and interests with you," Mulhall said.
According to the release, the ambassadors' visit concluded with a stop at the School of Global and International Studies, where they met the dean, former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein, and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton.
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