FAMU explores connection

International Education Week continued Tuesday in the Perry Paige auditorium as three Fulbright Scholar panelists, Joaquin Gonzalez Ibanez, Rosa Maria Rodriguez Izquierdo and Sudip Chakraborty, urged students to partake in the study abroad programs and scholarships offered by the university and the Fulbright Scholars Program.

“Our goal is to literally internationalize the university,” said Joseph Jones, Interim Director for International Education and Development.

As Jones introduced the panel he called attention to the advantages and esteem of being a Fulbright Scholar.

“The J. William Fulbright scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards that anyone can receive,” Jones said.

The program is designed for students with outstanding academic merit and leadership skills, who want to engage in an international educational exchange where they can study, research or intern abroad. The panelists, two from Spain and one from India, described their experiences from learning about another country.

“If you have an opportunity to study abroad, don’t miss it because it will transport you to another dimension and you will have an opportunity to be a bridge between different countries,” said lecturer and researcher of International Law, Ibanez.

Ibanez is a visiting scholar at American University in Washington D.C. from Madrid, Spain.

Ibanez emphasized the advantages of an international perspective in all disciplines.

“You have as many personalities as languages you speak, when you expand your horizons you are more competitive and it does not matter if you are trying to be a businessman or a politician, employers will be impressed,” Ibanez said.

It is the lack of enthusiasm and initiative that FAMU students have about expanding their horizons, that concerns Jones, he said.

“One to three percent of students who study abroad are African-American,” Jones said.

Jones attributes the low numbers to a lack of interest because many students believe it is not relevant to them.

For those students that are interested in studying abroad, Jones said he has spoke with James Ammons on several occasions and he is very eager to expand the program.

“In conversation with our president he said that he wants everyone who wants an international experience to have it,” Jones said.

Izquierdo, a professor of social sciences and visiting scholar at Harvard University, stressed the personal benefits of an international education.

“Intellectually there are a number of things that we cannot learn from through just reading books, there are some things that you have to learn from people, then you can learn about yourself,” Izquierdo said.

Marriage, births and deaths are just a few ceremonial events students are introduced to in a different light while studying abroad, Izquierdo said.

Izquerido gave the example of race relations in the United States. She said in Europe race is not significant. However, when she came to the U.S. she noticed ethnicity and race were a way for to citizens identify themselves.

“You are confronted with things that you have never noticed, you will question your lifestyle and question others,” Izquerido said.

“In today’s world we are citizens of the world, but that means nothing if you have not traveled,” said Ibanez.