Skip page navigation

Skip page navigation

"these experiences have caused me to think of folks ... as neighbors and friends, rather than exotic strangers in National Geographic"

Headline: A world of difference

Once upon a time, people wondered, "What in the world is IUPUI." These days, the better question is, "where in the world is IUPUI." And increasingly, the answer: as close as next door, and as far as the other side of the planet.

The campus is determined to make an impact on the 21st century world, forging partnerships with universities in such diverse lands as Kenya (Moi University in Eldoret), Mexico (Autonomous University of the State of Hidalgo) and China (Sun-Yat Sen University in Guangzhou). Those relationships expand horizons for IUPUI students and faculty, and perhaps just as importantly, help Indiana build a stronger future in the global economy.

Such relationships are the heart of IU President Michael McRobbie's plan to establish Indiana University as a global force, with IUPUI playing a pivotal role through exchange programs for teachers and students, study-abroad opportunities, research partnerships, service learning efforts and more — much more!

Career essential

To Caitlin Dugdale, a second-year student in the IU School of Medicine, international experiences are an essential part of college life. She traveled as an IU undergrad in Bloomington, and again as part of the family medicine department's service projects in Honduras early in her graduate school career.

"It shapes how I view the world, and perhaps more importantly, how I view my place in it," says Dugdale. "These experiences have caused me to think of folks I meet in distant lands as neighbors and friends, rather than exotic strangers in National Geographic." Juhanna Rogers, the director of IUPUI's Hermano a Hermano program, believes the ability to experience other people, other places and other cultures firsthand gives new meaning to the lessons being learned.

"One day, you read about the history of enslavement in the Caribbean, and the next afternoon you are sitting in the living room of a descendant of a freed African-American slave," says Rogers of the program, in which IUPUI students spend 10 days each spring gaining real-world experience in the Dominican Republic.

For many IUPUI students, international travel revolves around service learning opportunities. For others, it's an international internship or a chance to put their lessons into action. "Medical students complete rounds overseas," says Stephanie Leslie, the director of Study Abroad, part of the Office of International Affairs at IUPUI. "Business students work as consultants. Anthropology students analyze other cultures." The possibilities are virtually limitless.

For some students, like 2008 graduate Devika Bellamy, the impact is more personal. "I had a chance to work with international students as a mentor, and I wound up learning more than they did," she laughs. "They have so many things to share with us, and they are so eager to learn from our culture."

Her experience intensified one of her own desires: to join the Peace Corps. "I want to just immerse myself in another culture, and helping others at the same time seemed like a good way to do that," Bellamy says.

City gains, too

The impact of IUPUI's international opportunities isn't limited to students. To Susan Sutton, the associate vice chancellor of international affairs, Indianapolis itself derives benefits.

"IUPUI is playing a key role in welcoming new immigrants, and assisting the city in understanding their needs and backgrounds," says Sutton. In addition, "the international expertise and networks IUPUI offers are a critical resource for the businesses, organizations and government agencies engaged in international work."

The partnerships with universities like Moi, Hidalgo and Sun-Yat Sen have energized IUPUI faculty and researchers, too.

"The boundaries of our intellectual world do not stop at the edge of the campus, or even the border of the state," says Sutton, who says IUPUI-based experts are excited about the opportunity to join "international networks of research and learning. Faculty who never saw themselves as internationally engaged now are collaborating with colleagues abroad."

The benefits of cross-cultural experiences go both ways, according to those who have come to IUPUI from abroad. Students and faculty from abroad are finding the campus a warm and inviting place.

"Every student you pass, you see a smile or hear a "hello." It makes your day," says Perez Agaba, a freshman in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology and a native of the African nation of Uganda. "I've met people from so many more backgrounds than I ever expected. The diversity here gives you experiences with people and cultures you've never imagined."

Angeles Martínez Mier is a native of Mexico and an IU School of Dentistry faculty researcher who has been both a student and faculty member at IUPUI. Indianapolis has "changed in so many ways since I first came her," she says.

"It has always been a friendly place," Martínez Mier adds. "But the food and the culture and all the new people coming here are making Indianapolis a truly international city." Thinking about the campus as "international IUPUI" may sound a little like an airport, but the departures and arrivals in this venue are anything but flights of fancy: they are real relationships becoming a strong foundation.

And for students like Dugdale and Agaba — people from very different worlds — education in another country is a life-altering experience.

"When students like me go on trips to places like Honduras, for study abroad or for service work, we might not be able to "change the world," but the world sure changes us!" says Dugdale.

"The world is not an island," adds Agaba. "Those friends we make here will help us have a better, richer life."