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Expo brings international flavors to OSU event

Posted on Thursday, October 5, 2017

By David Bitton/Stillwater News Press dbitton@stwnewspress.com

The pleasant aroma of food from countries all over the globe filled the Wes Watkins Center Wednesday as nearly two dozen student organizations offered a taste of their homeland during the annual International Expo.

Expo brings international flavors to OSU event David Bitton/Stillwater News Press Ye Guo, right, 22, a senior strategic communications major, searches for the right hat/fan to buy Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 at the Thai Student Association booth during the annual International Expo at Oklahoma State University’s Wes Watkins Center in Stillwater.

“It is like traveling around the world in a day,” said Puja Jana, president of the Oklahoma State University International Student Organization, which hosted the event that has been going on more than 30 years.

During the lunch hour, student associations from countries including Saudi Arabia and South Korea sold food to hundreds of guests.

OSU has roughly 1,800 international students from more than 100 countries, with the majority coming from China (439) and India (425), according to fall 2017 data.

Minjoo Kim, 23, a PhD marketing major who was volunteering at the Korean Student Association booth said the event is a great way to learn about other countries while sampling their food.

Her group offered an array of food including bulgogi (barbecue beef) over rice with kimchi.

African Student Association volunteer and environmental science major Kim Ndong, 24, a senior, kept busy selling an African donut called a puff-puff and a drink called bissap, which was made from dried hibiscus flowers mixed with pineapple.

“People love it,” said Ndong, who is from Gabon, Africa.

A line at the Thai Student Association was steady throughout the event, not only for the food and drink options but because they were selling a hat that doubled as a fan for $1.

The wooden object was decorated with colorful fabric with Thai patterns.

“I’ve never seen this type of hat before,” said Ye Guo, 22, a senior strategic communications major. “This is a great event.”

The event also featured a booth where Alejandra Barrera, a 31-year-old Health and Human Performance PhD student from Mexico City, was collecting monetary donations.

The funds will soon be helping the people of Mexico recover following last month’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake that left more than 300 dead and thousands injured.

Barrera said nearly $2,000 had been raised in the past several weeks.

“I hope that in some small way this helps,” she said.

IIE Study Shows That Studying Abroad Has a Direct Impact on Skills Needed for Career Success

Posted on Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A new study was released Monday, October 2, on the connection between study abroad programs and the development of skills that contribute to employment and career development in today’s workforce. The study was released at the IIE Summit on Generation Study Abroad in Washington, DC on October 2, and the full report can be downloaded at www.iie.org/employability.

Among alumni who studied abroad for one academic year, 68 percent reported studying abroad contributing to a job offer or promotion, compared to just 43 percent of alumni who studied abroad for fewer than eight weeks. At the same time, stronger gains in teamwork skills were reported by students who took part in short term programs, which tend to be more structured and team oriented than longer term programs where students might pursue more independent experiences.

Electrical Engineering major, Henry Hook, from Andover, Kan., is photographed at Medersa Ben Youssef in Marrakech, Morocco, in spring 2016 Electrical Engineering major, Henry Hook, from Andover, Kan., is photographed at Medersa Ben Youssef in Marrakech, Morocco, in spring 2016

Struggle for Survival

Posted on Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Almost half the world—over three billion people—live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

Struggle for Survival

Friday, October 13, the Crossroads Foundation is coming to Stillwater to run this simulation at Oklahoma State University. Crossroads will be doing the simulation at 9:30 and 11:45 a.m. Registration is full at this time, but email us to be informed of future events.

The ‘Struggle for Survival’ is a simulation designed to demonstrate the barriers that half of the globe’s population face daily. The experience allows participants to explore poverty ‘from the inside’ and begin to explore how they can make a difference in meeting global needs. The simulation is run by the Crossroads Foundation, a Hong Kong-based organization fighting global need. The experience regularly presented to top political and economic leaders at the World Economic Forum, to global NGOs, in senior leadership and development programs, and is frequently requested as a catalyst toward real-world solutions. The experience has been featured on the BBC, CNN and newspapers around the world.

In the simulation, participants must find ways to earn money to protect their families, pay for rent, food, sanitation, medical needs and education. Those that cannot earn enough find themselves in more desperate straits. In the space of two hours, this program throws participants into the real pressures felt by almost half of the globe’s population every day. It is from this position that participants are invited to explore what could help break the oppressive cycle of poverty.

2017 OSU International EXPO

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017

International EXPO - 2017

Where food and culture meet!

  • Date: Wednesday, October 4
  • Place: Intenational Mall (North of Edmon Low Library)
  • Time: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Fundraising Events for Mexico

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017

Fundraising for Mexico City Earthquake

September 29 Noche Latina

  • $2 Entrance Fee
  • Starlight Terrace
  • 4th Floor Student Union
  • 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017

National Heritage Month

Voices of D.A.C.A.

Join us, the OSU faculty and Staff, and Dream Act Oklahoma for a night of engaging discussion

  • Wednesday, October 4
  • Student Union Little Theater
  • 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Festival Hispano

Celebrating the end of Hispanic Heritage Month! An event filled with music, dancing, and fun.

  • Saturday, October 7
  • Alumni Center: Click Hall
  • 6:30 pm - 10:30 pm

For more information, contact:

Crystal Martinez
Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Affairs
crystal.martinez@okstate.edu

Exchange student Abigail Crosby gained valuable world experience at Spears Business

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Abigail Crosby studied at Oklahoma State University for two semesters.

Oklahoma State University international business management graduate Abigail Crosby has traveled all over the United States and Europe before turning 18 years old.

Crosby was born in West Virginia and quickly moved to Seattle after about a year and a half. At age 3, her family decided to move back to England, where her mother had been born and raised. At age 6, the family finally settled down with her father’s Northern Ireland roots, where Crosby would stay until she was 18. After that, it was a 40-minute flight to Edinburgh, Scotland, to attend Heriot-Watt University.

“Actually, a year after I moved to Scotland, my parents moved back to England,” Crosby said. “So, when I go ‘home,’ I’m going to England, but that’s not where I grew up. It only takes me about four hours to get home by train.”

Crosby started off studying business management and marketing at Heriot-Watt but knew she wanted to study abroad, so switching to international business management was a perfect transition. Coming back to America was top on her priority list, so through the exchange program at Heriot-Watt, Crosby chose OSU.

“Because I was born [in the United States], I knew I wanted to come to America, just because I left when I was so young and I wanted to see what it might have been like if I would have stayed here the whole time,” Crosby said. “But that’s all I knew. I had seen the east coast before, but I had never seen the middle or the west coast. I had my pick of about three universities in America, and I decided that I wanted to experience the ‘college life,’ so I came to OSU.”

It didn’t take long for Crosby (left) to get involved with the Spears School of Business.

She arrived at OSU in August 2016, a week before classes began. She was able to experience the slow summer of Stillwater before the bustling of the fall semester began. Stillwater wasn’t as close to a big city as she’d thought, but the quirky restaurants and small-town feel more than made up for it. With the excitement and rush of students on campus, Crosby dove in to her American experience head first.

“It was quite overwhelming at the start because there was nobody here at first,” Crosby said. “Slowly, everyone started to trickle in and then all of a sudden it was like, the first week and it was bustling, it was really nice to be a part of something and have a purpose to be here. It was nice to feel like I belonged here.”

The Spears School of Business offered Crosby plenty of avenues to get involved. The international Enactus Club offered by the School of Entrepreneurship was the perfect option for Crosby to practice her international business skills by creating business proposals for Nicaraguan cacao farmers using Kiva, a micro-lending organization. She also interned as a social media wiz with Life Out of the Box, an OSU student startup that donates school supplies to countries in need by selling clothing and accessories.

“I really liked that I was able to choose any subject here,” Crosby said. “I was able to choose stuff like corporate social responsibility, sustainable enterprises, which are a little more niche compared to what I would be studying at home. It really makes a difference in making you want to get up in the morning and actually make that class because it’s nice sitting and listening to something you’re actually interested in.”

OSU didn’t have a netball team, but Crosby continued to stay active in other areas.

The international aspect of Spears Business was Crosby’s favorite part of attending OSU. Entrepreneurship professor Craig Watters and management assistant professor Jose Sagarnaga shared invaluable lessons from their travels across the world with Crosby, which she hopes to do in the future.

In addition to being able to choose the classes she wanted such as sustainable enterprises and social entrepreneurship, the experiences at OSU have helped Crosby build an impressive resume.

“I really like visiting new places and meeting new people, it’s nice to see how different people are all over the world. Just being here has helped me to adapt to my surroundings which will be so beneficial to my future. I’m studying international business, which means I’m likely to work for a company that’s international, so if they can see that I was able to move somewhere by myself for a year and adapt, I think that’s really beneficial.”

“I had two professors who really made an impact on my semesters,” Crosby said. “They traveled so much, one had even been to my hometown, another was going off to Finland a few weeks after, it was just really nice knowing that the professors were traveling and were going through similar stuff that I went through and adapting. It’s nice that business is all over the world, and it’s a nice industry to be going in to.”

Crosby went back to Edinburgh to finish out her final year of college with an expected graduation date of May 2018. Her biggest advice to exchange students: don’t give up.

“Don’t give up on getting to know Americans,” Crosby said. “It’s really easy to stick to hanging out with other exchange students, and at the start it can feel like [you’re] never going to meet loads of Americans, but it does happen, you just have to keep surrounding yourself with people who live here.”

OSU's Heart Goes out to Mexico

Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The staff and students of the School of Global Studies and Partnerships are deeply saddened by the loss of life and damage resulting from the earthquake that struck Mexico on September 19. We lift our prayers and our best wishes to OSU students, faculty, and staff who have been deeply impacted by this event and are committed to assisting in any way we can.

Support Mexico

OSU student’s idea for banana fabric could be boon for her homeland

Posted on Thursday, September 14, 2017

When Joyce Nabisaalu taught at Kyambogo University in Uganda and saw her colleague making paper from banana stems, she thought, “Why not more?”

Nabisaalu, now an apparel design and production doctoral student at Oklahoma State University, has taken her idea to the next level by researching how to turn banana fibers into fabric.

“He’d cut them into small pieces and then blend them into a pulp and create new papers,” Nabisaalu said. “So I told him, ‘Why not make fabric?’ Since my background is in textiles, I thought, ‘OK. I think I can pursue this.’”

Nabisaalu first came to OSU in 2014 on a professional fellowship program through the U.S. Department of State, but she had no idea this was where she would pursue a new passion.

“At that point, all I knew was that I was coming here to better my teaching and fashion skills,” Nabisaalu said.

After receiving her doctorate, Nabisaalu hopes to teach at a university again and help other people learn how to transform banana fibers into fabric. In Uganda, she had a business teaching young, single mothers how to make clothing for a living.

“In every way, I want to continue supporting them whenever I can,” Nabisaalu said. “I also encourage them to train someone else, better someone else’s life.”

The program that initially brought her to OSU was designed for entrepreneurs in East and South Africa, including Nabisaalu’s hometown of Luwero, Uganda. During the six-week fellowship, she was placed under the mentorship of Dr. Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, a former associate professor of apparel design and textile science in the College of Human Sciences.

“At every step of the way, from the time I very first met Joyce, I was very impressed by her professionalism and her ability to take an idea and develop it and make it her own and think of all the critical, problem-solving ways to look at it,” Ruppert-Stroescu said.

She visited Nabisaalu in Uganda after the fellowship ended and immediately saw the potential in the banana stem project.

With funds from the RIATA Center for Entrepreneurship, Ruppert-Stroescu took on the role of adviser and brought Nabisaalu back to OSU to pursue a doctoral degree and further her interest in clothing made from banana fibers.

“Turning fiber into fabric instead of paper may seem like a little idea at first,” Rupport-Stroescu said. “Then you realize that it has the potential to completely transform the economic and aesthetic landscape for a country.”

In Uganda, agriculture employs 75 percent of the population, with bananas and plantains being the most popular crop. More than 10 million tons of bananas are harvested each year.

With so many farmers growing bananas and discarding the rest of the plant, the materials to make the fibers would otherwise rot and be of no use.

“The clothes you find in America, if they are sold in Uganda, are really expensive,” Nabisaalu said. “A dress here could be like someone’s salary in Uganda. No one can afford it. So, some people prefer the secondhand clothes from Western countries. However, since merchants realized there was a demand for secondhand clothes, they are also now highly priced in Uganda.”

Ugandan cotton production has been in a steep decline due to the high cost of cotton harvesting and labor, so there is more of a market for natural fibers now than ever.

“So, if we have a fiber that can do basically the same thing (as cotton), why not increase our average household income?” Nabisaalu said.

The banana fibers make the clothing completely sustainable and biodegradable, something Nabisaalu and Ruppert-Stroescu agree is a large part of why it will be successful. The softening, finishing and dyeing products are also natural.

Ruppert-Stroescu said she hopes that work on the project will continue to be successful and help the economic and environmental aspects of life in Uganda.

“I don’t think it’s pie in the sky,” Ruppert-Stroescu said. “It’s a big project, but I don’t think it’s impossible.”

Nabisaalu will spend the 2017-2018 school year researching the properties and physical structures of banana fibers. After defending her dissertation proposal in May 2018, she will spend the rest of her time as a student learning how to turn theory to practice and banana stems to clothes.

“I am just so proud of her and so excited for the future of this project,” Ruppert-Stroescu said. “I have all the confidence in the world that she’s going to be able to do great things with this.”

Watch Nabisaalu’s OSU Graduate College Three Minute Thesis presentation on her study of making fabric from banana fibers: http://ra.okstate.edu/STW_Grad/3MC/2017/Nabisaalu/video.html

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