University News

Summer Program Provides Education to Visiting International Students

July 19, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Students and faculty from five international universities have been immersed in a variety of programs on the Western Illinois University campus this summer to improve their English and to learn entrepreneurial skills.

According to Carol Fimmen, director of Western's Global Education Office in the College of Business and Technology, 22 students and four faculty from the Mexican universities of Queretaro, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and Chiapas and from the University of Santa Cruz in Bolivia arrived on campus June 23 for the intensive five-week summer program, which is coordinated by Janice Gates, a WIU management instructor.

Fimmen created the program several years ago with the help of a U.S. Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant; however, it has evolved into a self-sustaining program over the years.

"The students have been taking Western's English as a Second Language (WESL) classes each morning, while the afternoon has brought a variety of seminars involving entrepreneurship," Fimmen explained. "They have lived in Thompson Hall during their stay to get a feel of residential life at an American university."

Joseph Chapa, executive director of operations for the Mexico-United States Chamber of Commerce, lead the seminars, which focused related to entrepreneurship, innovation and global commerce. Participants also attended lectures on business development taught by WIU faculty and Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation, Small Business Development Center, the Western Illinois Entrepreneurship Center and Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs staff.

"The students also have had a variety of cultural experiences during their time here," Gates added. "They have visited Springfield, including the Lincoln Presidential Museum and Lincoln's Tomb; they toured the WIU Farm, as well as John Deere Davenport Works; and they traveled to Chicago to tour the Federal Reserve Bank and Chicago Mercantile Exchange."

The students, who have created business plans as part of their entrepreneurship class, will present their plans to WIU faculty and area leaders, including President Al Goldfarb and Macomb Mayor Mick Wisslead, next week, with a focus on socially responsible businesses.

"This program provides invaluable experiences to the students from the participating universities, as well as for our faculty and staff," Gates said. "It also opens the doors for WIU students who wish to participate in an exchange program. Our students could travel to any of these universities and immerse themselves into a program that provides global experiences and cultural appreciation."

*EDITOR'S NOTE: Media are invited to attend the business plan presentations at 2 p.m. Tuesday,
July 24 in Stipes Hall 230. Contact Darcie Shinberger, 309/298-1993,, to confirm attendance.

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing