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Professional program spreads diversity

June 29, 2006

A program through MSU is helping professionals from other countries connect with those in the workforce in the United States.

The Visiting International Professional Program, has been teaching foreign professionals for more than 15 years about business, culture and other global issues that help make them more diversified.

"We are helping people who are employed in various degrees, from journalism to business, and teaming them up with one of our own professionals to help understand more about their working area from another point of view," said Sung Soo Chung, head of operations and planning for the program. "We are also helping these people and their companies learn more about our culture by teaching them our language."

The program began in 1991. Chung said since its establishment, it has acquired more than 3,000 alumni, 2,000 of whom are from Asian countries because of the many relations the program has in the region.

The program allows for a company in another country to send an employee to the U.S. to be trained by another person of the same profession.

Chung said during their time here, which usually ranges from six months to a year, the foreign professionals learn language skills, history and some American culture, like holidays and foods.

William Eubank, an instructor in the program who helps teach participants other languages, said the program promotes learning more about surrounding cultures.

"We don't just encourage learning about the culture, but participating in cultural activities, as well," Eubank said.

"We try to get everyone to events like basketball and football games, and this area is so great to encounter those actives in such a diverse area."

Chung said he thinks one of the reasons the program has thrived is because of the diversified environment.

"MSU is one of the no. 1 international universities in the nation, so this helps in attracting people and crossing language barriers," Chung said.

Chung added that even though the program is at MSU, it's a separate entity from the university.

"We do get some support from MSU, but most of our activities are independent. We connect to the community by ourselves," Chung said.

Sun Ok Kim, a musician who came from Korea to join the program, said she's learned a lot from it.

"This program has been a huge help to me," Kim said. "It has helped me speak English better, expanded my knowledge about American culture, and I have met many people in the process."

Kim has helped in other programs around the community, like the Korean Culture Camp, teaching music to young kids.

"I want to be prepared for my future, and I think something like this does it," Kim said. "It feels as if one chapter in my life is closing, and another chapter is opening."


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