The Office of Global Initiatives and the Center for English as a Second Language at the University of Arizona have announced three recipients of the annual Global Excellence Awards, presented to those in the UA community who have made an impact in international service or education. The honorees will be celebrated at a reception on Thursday as part of International Education Week activities.
Student Award for Global Excellence: Global Ambassadors
The mission of the UA Global Ambassadors program is to "bridge cultures between American and international students and serve as ambassadors for the international/global community on campus." Global Ambassadors internationalize the UA in three ways — by serving as leaders for international orientation, by coordinating the UA Buddy Program and by creating awareness of study-abroad opportunities.
By serving as leaders for international orientation, the team becomes the first point of contact for approximately 1,000 new international students from more than 100 countries. They represent the UA through actions and service during a new student's first days on campus. This year's team consists of 15 undergraduate and graduate students from nine countries (Ghana, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, India and the United States).
To extend connections made at orientation, Global Ambassadors lead a program for international and domestic students that currently includes more than 200 participants. These participants, or Global Buddies, are intentionally placed into small, diverse groups of students in order to build bridges. Approximately 15 social events are organized throughout the year to facilitate cultural exchange.
Finally, the group gives classroom presentations informing students of the many opportunities to study abroad.
Excellence in Global Education: Kevin Fitzsimmons
Kevin Fitzsimmons, director for international initiatives for the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has represented the UA in international efforts related to aquaculture and water sustainability for more than 35 years. His collaborative programs have reached across the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. Fitzsimmons has worked to support sustainability and economic development, and he also has facilitated the training of the next generation of environmental scientists through support of 20-plus international students.
A recent example is his work to develop a sustainable aquaculture industry in Myanmar (Burma), a USAID-funded project that includes establishing a modern seafood safety testing laboratory at Yangon University, training in aquaculture for faculty from 44 of Burma's 45 universities, provision of 30 scholarships and 80 internships for Burmese students, and setup of demonstration farms and hatcheries for training of Burmese farmers. Last January, Fitzsimmons was the first foreigner to ever lecture at Burma's Sittwe University. The project is so successful that the UA's blue-and-red "A" is now easily identified by students and farmers throughout Burma.
Other current projects of his include development of aquaculture across Pakistan, a collaboration with Eldoret University in Kenya, and work with a consortium of Saudi and Emirati universities on sustainable agriculture and aquaculture.
Excellence in Global Service: Georgia Ehlers
Since coming to the UA in 1993, Georgia Ehlers has worked to build bridges among cultures, both on campus and in the Tucson community.
More than 15 years ago, Ehlers spearheaded the creation of the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program at the UA. The program has served to internationalize the campus by bringing more than 350 returned Peace Corps volunteers to the UA from places as wide-ranging as Suriname, Swaziland, Ukraine, Uganda, Vanuatu and China.
Coverdell Fellows also connect with Tucson refugees and give presentations in K-12 classrooms throughout the city to address gaps in cultural understanding. Events with refugees include arts and crafts with refugee children, participation in World Refugee Day and interactive English classes. In 2008, the fellows and the Graduate College, led by Ehlers, installed a Peace Pole on campus. The pole, north of Old Main, has the words "May Peace Prevail on Earth" inscribed in eight languages.