The U of I hosts Fulbright Program bringing international students to campus

MOSCOW, ID - The University of Idaho is one of only nine universities chosen to host some of the top graduate students in the world.

Jenee' Ryan met with organizers and international students to find out why this program is so important.

"At first I think I was lucky, but now I think I am privileged," said Mandzisi Mkhontfo of Swaziland.

Mandzisi Mkhontfo is one of 73 international graduate students from 40 different countries visiting the University of Idaho to learn about American Culture this week.

"The United States is a very well known country for it's advantages, also technological or academic and it has the ability to give so much knowledge," said Xavier Isidro Pereira Hernandez of Columbia

These scholars are all a part of the prestigious Fulbright Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The international student exchange was developed by Senator Fulbright in 1946 after World War II.

"It's a major funding initiative to promote world peace basically," said Susan Bender, Executive Director of UI International Engagement and Programs. "They decided after the war that we needed to understand each other, each others cultures and the best way we could do that was through education."

Many of the students awarded the scholarship will receive education in America that is not available to them in their own countries.

"We do not have peace studies and conflict resolution studies," said Katarzyna Przybyla of Poland. "So it's really important for me that I'm able to study peace studies here."

"I'm from Swaziland, it's in Africa, one of the few developing countries left there and there isn't much majors particularly in public health," said Mthontfo.

The program will definitely change the lives of the Fulbright International students, but there's hopes that it will also change the lives of some Vandals.

"A lot of people, you know, students from the U of I have never traveled abroad and once they get to be involved in this type of programs they just want to go out," said Coordinator, Lubia Cajas. "And that changes even their career path."

"International experiences change your life and have a dramatic impact on our vision and our view of what our role is in the world," said Bender.

The Fulbright students will remain in the Palouse through the rest of the week before they all head off to their universities of study all over the US.

Interestingly enough, 25 faculty and staff members of the University of Idaho are Fulbright alums.