Overseas advisers visit Western

Ashlee Clark

Margaret Anyigbo talked about education in her home nation of Nigeria. Surrounding her in the International Center lobby were Western faculty, who listened with interest.

But Anyigbo wasn’t just on campus to talk about Nigeria. She was here to learn about Western.

Anyigbo, an educational adviser for the U.S. Consulate in Nigeria, is one of four overseas advisers who visited Western and other universities in Kentucky last week as part of the State Department’s U.S.-Based Training Program for Overseas Educational Advisers.

This is the first time in the 20 years of the USBT that Kentucky has been chosen to host the international advisers.

The program is designed to provide overseas advisers – who help international students who want to study in the U.S. – insight into college life in America, said Robin Borczon, assistant director of international programs at Western.

Borczon said that people at Western working with the program were excited about the decision for USBT to come to Kentucky.

“They all see this as an opportunity to shine in parts of the world where it is not easy to make our presence known,” she said.

Advisers from Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Thailand and Kazakhstan came to the Hill on Wednesday and Saturday. They spent the rest of their Kentucky visit at Campbellsville University and Northern Kentucky University, which are also participating in the program.

“I’d like them to just discover Kentucky and discover Western,” Borczon said.

The program is administered by the College Board and takes place in the fall and spring, she said.

According to a press release about USBT, the program is paid for by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the State Department under the authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961.

Western provided some matching funds for transportation and postage for the advisers, Borczon said.

Nelum Senadira, an adviser at at the U.S.-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission, said she was pleased with Western’s cost and environment.

“This is the kind of university that would be welcome to my students,” Senadira said.

After observing the college experience first-hand, the advisers will be able to tell international students what to expect at schools in America, Borczon said.

“They will have a base of knowledge on which to draw with those types of situation,” Borczon said.

Borczon said that the program is an educational rather than recruiting opportunity for the overseas advisers.

Ann Sakornyen, who works for the U.S. Embassy in Thailand, said her role is to help students find a school that matches their needs. She said she plans on sharing her experiences on the Hill with students in Thailand to show them the environment at Western.

“It’s great,” she said. “I love it. I think I like the campus and the atmosphere.”

Along with visiting colleges and universities, advisers chosen to participate in the USBT go to Washington, D.C., for one week to learn about educational issues and attend an international education conference to meet U.S. college and university administrators, Borczon said.

Eight other overseas advisers participated in the program in Texas and Virginia, Borczon said. When all of the advisers complete their trips, they will reconvene in Washington, D.C., and share what they have learned about the American universities they visited.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected].