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International Advisors Tour UT, USF and HCC

Published: May 10, 2011
With their cameras recording the whole performance, the international crowd of EducationUSA Advisors sat in awe while Music Professor Haig Mardirosian, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, introduced them to his favorite instrument – the organ.

The crowd seated in the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values was experiencing one facet of collegiate life for international students studying abroad in the U.S. The performance was part of a week-long visit that includes tours of the University of South Florida and Hillsborough Community College.

“This event is important for building our international focus and competence on campus,” said Provost Janet McNew.

EducationUSA advising centers are supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. The 22 advisors come from countries around the world including Benin, India, Senegal, Togo, Italy and Colombia. The group arrived in Tampa on Sunday, May 8, and will travel to all three campuses for experiential education before leaving May 13.

“It’s a great way to showcase the University while also making sure our international students will be supported fully before choosing to study here,” said Kristy Ramos, international student services advisor and institutional coordinator for the trip. “It also shows UT’s commitment to a diverse, international education.”

As part of their visit at UT, the advisors spoke with current international students about their experiences at UT, they heard about campus life from Assistant Director of Civic Engagement Megan Frisque and learned about the ESL program and toured several academic departments with faculty.

The idea is to help the advisors find the best fit for their students.

George DaPonte, UT’s director of International Admissions, likens it to a garden. The seeds are selected for the soil type, amount of sun received and the climate. Once nurtured, the right seeds can produce flowers and vegetables in abundance.

“In this case, the seeds are students and the perfect garden becomes the university and the perfect match for each student,” DaPonte said.

Prior to coming to Tampa, the advisors spent one week in Washington, D.C. in workshops and sessions at the Department of State learning about American higher education. This is the first year the Institute of International Education, which runs EducationUSA as well as programs like Fulbright, has partnered with the Department of State to offer this intensive professional development program.