For Ginsburgs, global interests are contagious

Her work, first with 3M and then with a commercial law firm affiliation, drew Sue Ginsburg into the international marketplace.

“I have been exposed to and learned a lot about our global economy and doing business with other countries,” says Ginsburg, who now heads GrowthLynx, a Minneapolis marketing firm.  “I love meeting people from other cultures, learning about their cultures, connecting the dots, helping expand business internationally, and figuring out how to successfully do business together.”

As her global affinity grew, she didn’t leave it at the office. She carried her international interests home, into her children’s classrooms and now to the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“I always spoke to my children about where I was going, and what it was like, always emphasizing there were as many similarities as there were differences,” she says.

She brought her international friends and colleagues home and arranged for them to speak in her children’s classes. She also traveled with her children—Nathaniel, Jeremy and Melanie—to Canada, Mexico and Europe—and they have hosted exchange students from Australia, Brazil and Ecuador.

“Having exchange students live with us and become their close friends was another part of making their world smaller,” she says.

“I believe this exposure helped expand their horizons beyond the United States,” she explains. “All three kids did a High School in Israel Program, where they experienced for themselves how eye-opening and life-altering it is to live in another country.”

Coming to UW

Sue Ginsburg (second from left) and her children, Nathaniel, Melanie and Jeremy head for a Badger football game. They also share a passion for international engagement.

In turn, the Ginsburg children brought along their global interests as each went away to college—to UW–Madison.

Nathaniel, the oldest, was attracted to UW–Madison by the academic opportunities only a few hours’ drive from the family’s Minnesota home. During his junior year, he studied abroad in Prague, the Czech capital.

After graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy, he taught English for a year in South Korea. “I was really interested in experiencing Asia by living there and traveling while there,” he says.

“My experience really opened my eyes to how different things work in other places in the world, how different cultures can be, and how interesting learning about it is,” he says. “I have definitely learned more than ever the need to be open-minded and adaptable.”

He adds, “I feel like I have a better appreciation for some of the things that I like about America, as well as a connection to people and parts of the world that used to be mostly foreign to me.”

Nathaniel now is focused on started an Internet-based business and plans to move to New York City.

“After many trips to Madison to visit their older brother, Jeremy and Melanie fell in love with Madison and made up their minds to go here,” their mother says.

Jeremy, now a junior majoring in economics, plans to study abroad in Ghana, where HIV/AIDS has had a huge impact and New Seed International, a student organization that he leads, helped to fund an orphanage.

“I plan to visit the orphanage and volunteer there. I might even stay for the entire summer and stay at the orphanage for a few months,” he says. “I also chose Ghana because I love drumming and dancing, and I wanted to experience the Western African culture.”

From this experience, he hopes to gain new perspectives that he could not find elsewhere.

“Ghana is well known to have the happiest people in the world, even though most of them are poor and/or sick. I hope to take those values and implement them into my life, spread these values to make myself and everyone around me happier as well,” he says. “I also would love to come back a phenomenal dancer, while improving my drumming skills.”

Melanie, a freshman who has yet to declare her major, signaled her global interests by signing on with the Wisconsin International Scholars (WISc) Program, in which a select group of undergraduates participate in an internationally focused enrichment program.

“I loved the idea of coming together with other internationally interested students and discussing international topics that might get overlooked by most other students on campus,” she says. “The program also greatly encourages studying abroad, which has always been something that I have been really interested in. The program has a lot of interesting people with so many cool experiences in different countries and cultures and it’s really fun hearing about all of them.”

Melanie envisions doing something that allows her to travel and experience the world.

“I want to help underdeveloped areas make the transition to more efficient and sustainable living,” she says. “I want to have a job that allows me to help others, even if I’m only making a difference to a few people. I don’t need to change the entire world; making a small difference is better than making no difference at all.”

Source of Pride

“It was important to me for my children to know they are global citizens,” Sue Ginsburg says, “and it makes me very proud to see how they have each incorporated international experiences into their learning both within and outside the classroom.”

Sue, meanwhile, continues to pursue her own international interests, which has led her to create opportunities for UW–Madison students. For the past five years, she has been involved with First Step Initiative, a nonprofit that provides microfinance loans to women entrepreneurs in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Through small loans and the education and training provided through First Step Initiative, we are helping women start businesses that will allow them to support themselves and their families,” she explains. “Helping empower women to rise out of poverty and often provide jobs for their husbands and others in the community is very gratifying.”

She has connected with the International Internship Program (IIP) in the Division of International Studies to create internships that enable students to learn about and experience microfinance in the real world.

“When learning about the WISc Program that Melanie is in, I was struck by the global opportunities available for UW–Madison students,” she says.  “I love creating win-win situations by connecting people with opportunities, and saw this as an opportunity to help a nonprofit that can truly make a difference, and at the same time provide real life experience for a Madison student interested in helping people on the other side of the world.”

IIP was launched in 2010 with a mission to “identify, cultivate and promote high-quality internship opportunities that advance the professional training of UW-Madison undergraduate students; foster global competency; and reinforce academic learning through practical application.”

Internships can be overseas or U.S.-based, but internationally focused, as the one Sue helped create with First Step Initiative.

Like Sue, parents who have ideas for internships for undergraduate students and are interested in creating opportunities may contact IIP Director Maj Fischer (

— by Kerry G. Hill