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Nov. 10, 2005

International visitors speak at Blair

by Mary Donahue, Online Managing Features Editor
A group of representatives from 13 different countries spoke to third period history and psychology classes yesterday. They are part of the Hubert H. Humphrey International Fellowship Program, which brings mid-career professionals from developing nations to study for a year in the United States.

"They're all mid-professional in their fields," said Cherie McGinn, the history department resource teacher, who helped organize the visit. "They have come here to advance their knowledge in their fields and their knowledge on other cultures," she said.

Established in 1978, the fellowship program allows nearly a dozen applicants to stay at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, which has been the host of the program since 2003.

The majority of participants in the group work in human services, though the group also includes one Technology Policy Management major from North Korea and two environmentalists, one from Zambia and the other from Burma. While in the United States, they will travel to numerous states to learn and understand American culture and the United States' economic and political structure, according to the fellowship program's website.

The representatives, who will be in the United States until June, were broken into three groups of five or six people and spoke to an AP Modern World History class taught by Kenneth Seat, a Comparative Religion class taught by McGinn, a Latin American History class taught by Marc Grossman and an AP Psychology class taught by Margaret Jessel.

"As a teacher of world history, it's wonderful to have people from the world in our classroom," said Seat. "Hopefully the kids can see the direct impact of the history we're studying."

The Institute of International Education (IIE), which administers the fellowship program, contacted Magnet Coordinator Eileen Steinkraus, who usually organizes any international visits, three weeks ago. The IIE was then redirected to McGinn because of the relationship the visits have to history classes. "They represent a variety of countries and professions," McGinn said, "and Steinkraus felt that the history department would be more interested in planning for this."

Each group talked to two classes for 45 minutes. The presentations depended mostly on the students asking questions after a short introduction from each speaker. "I was told it would have been better to have more time," McGinn said.

Students, who mostly asked questions dealing with the differences between American policies and the representative country's policies, found the presentations beneficial. "I learned a lot," said sophomore Amanda Liebrecht in Seat's class. "It was interesting to learn about their different cultures," she said.

Though it has not been officially organized yet, history teachers are planning a return visit from the groups.

After giving their presentations, the groups were given a tour of Blair, led by NSL and Law teacher, Patricia Anderson.



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