March 03, 2012
Danielle Lacey
314-977-2519

International Students Visit with State Lawmakers

SLU group at State Capitol
Nearly 30 Saint Louis University students traveled to Jefferson City with counselors from the Office of International Services to take part in the 2012 International Education Day organized by Study Missouri. Submitted photo

According to statistics from the state's Department of Higher Education, when it comes to international students, Missouri is a bit more worldly than the rest of the country. Last year, there was a more than a 15-percent increase in international students attending Missouri colleges and universities-- three times the national rate.

As part of an effort to showcase and encourage cultural exchange and study abroad opportunities, the Study Missouri Consortium hosted more than 420 students from 77 countries during International Education Day at the state Capitol Feb. 29.

"I knew this would be a worthwhile trip when we were sitting in the public gallery of the House during session, and the student sitting next to me expressed shock and amazement that the general public is allowed to be present during legislative sessions," said Scott Fetters, an international counselor with the Office of International Services.

Nearly 30 Saint Louis University students traveled to Jefferson City with counselors from the Office of International Services to take part the event. Attendees not only got to sit in on legislative sessions, they also had the opportunity to meet with Missouri lawmakers, including State Representative Tishaura Jones, a SLU alumna.

"The legislators were really nice to take time from their busy schedules to meet us and talk about their work with us," said Mun Chu Yam, a freshman business student from China. "As a newcomer to the U.S., I am still learning the politics here; but I could really feel the democracy and openness of the U.S. from them."

The event also helped promote how valuable international students are to Missouri. They represent a growing source of economic development for the state. In 2010-2011, the net economic contribution of foreign students totaled $383 million.

"I didn't know that international students were that valuable or important for the state of Missouri," said Romel Dufrene, a freshman business student from Haiti. "Such an event will encourage more international students to come to Missouri, and the state will have some cultural and economic benefits."


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