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Appalachian builds new international relationships

Dinesh_t.jpgSteffi_t.jpgBOONE-As Appalachian State University works to expand its international focus, it is hosting its first group of Indian exchange students from partner institutions this semester.

Dinesh Subramanian.jpgAchsah Steffi John.jpgCaption: Students from India studying at Appalachian State University this year are Dinesh Subramanian, top photo, and Achsah Steffi John, bottom photo. (Appalachian photo by Tommy Penick)

Dinesh Subramanian and Achsah Steffi John are both from the Indian state of Tamilnadu.  Subramanian is a graduate student studying social work, and John is an undergraduate student studying biology. Before coming to America, both said they were told American students don’t work very hard and school is very easy.

“When I got here, I thought it would be easy, but that was not true,” said John. “It took me a while to get used to doing everything on the computer, because in India all you do is write and write. I still have to study a lot but the people are very helpful.”

Subramanian and Steffi met two Appalachian students – Erin Myers, a sustainable development major, and Laura MacMinn, a management major – during their own study abroad trips to India, which helped influence them to apply for the exchange program. MacMinn interned with the People’s Development Initiative in Trichy. Meyers volunteered at the Centre for Rural Health and Environmental Protection in Madurai and helped set up composting centers at farms.

“I pretty much like it here. I thought it was odd that there was no dress code for students here like there is in India,” said Subramanian. “It seemed like the students didn’t work very hard, but then I realized that in class it is pretty much 50/50 between students and teachers. Students ask questions to make sure they understand.”

He said he’s glad he chose to participate in the exchange program. “I think it’s a great opportunity for Indian students to come to America,” he said.

This exchange program is offered through Appalachian’s International Community Development Initiative, sponsored by the Office of International Education and Development.  Visit http://www.international.appstate.edu/ or http://act.appstate.edu/index.php?module=pagesmith&uop=view_page&id=171 for more information about this and other international exchange and study abroad programs.

In the latest Open Doors Data report from the Institute of International Education, Appalachian ranks fourth for long-term study abroad programs and seventh overall for the number of students in study abroad programs in the master’s degree-granting institutions category.  In the 2008-09 academic year, Appalachian had 575 students participate in long-term study abroad and a total of 668 students participate in all study abroad programs.

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