When Jin Hoe Ng decided to leave Malaysia more than two years ago to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his knowledge of the state and campus was limited.
He knew Wisconsin was “an agriculture state famous for cheese and dairy products,” that the university’s student population “lacks racial diversity” and that UW-Madison “is a party school.” Similarly, India’s Hardik Modi knew UW-Madison’s industrial engineering program was “highly ranked,” that Madison is a “great university town” and that it “gets really cold here.”
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Gilles Bousquet, the dean of UW-Madison’s Division of International Studies, says it makes no sense to take an isolationist stance. “Today, more than ever, international studies are essential regardless of the field one goes into,” says Bousquet. “So many of the challenges that we are facing — environmental sustainability, economic interdependence, national security, pandemics, human rights — are global in nature and can have devastating local impacts. That means we will have to transcend borders, languages and cultures in order to seriously address these issues.”
Just last week, Bousquet returned from oil-rich Qatar in the Middle East, where he helped usher through an agreement between UW-Madison and Qatar University that provides a framework for future collaboration between students and faculty.
Martin tells The Capital Times she also intends to continue to “foster relationships and raise the visibility of UW-Madison” with trips soon to China and India. “We want our students to be living and working with the people who are tomorrow’s leaders all over the world,” says Martin.
Students traveling from abroad to study at UW-Madison are certainly nothing new.