University News

WIU Hosts Visiting International Students

July 23, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University is hosting students and faculty from two international universities for the fourth annual Mexican Student Summer Program, which was created to bring cultural exchange opportunities to Western. The group is also designed to help fortify international entrepreneurship skills while giving the students an environment to improve their English.

According to Carol Fimmen, director of Western's Global Education Office in the College of Business and Technology, 17 students and one faculty member from the Mexican universities of Queretaro and Chiapas arrived on campus June 21. The intensive five-week summer program, "Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The Future of Economic Development and an Intensive Program in Academic English Provided by Western's English as a Second Language (WESL) Institute," is coordinated by Janice Gates, a WIU management instructor.

Fimmen created the program several years ago through 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' schedule is comprised of daily classes in WESL and entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as seminars in choices and consequences, stress management, public speaking and presentations, dressing for success, applying to graduate school, creative thinking and decision making, football, web pages and other topics. The students have also had a variety of cultural experiences, including tours of St. Louis, Chicago, Galesburg and Springfield.

During their stay, the students have been living in Higgins Hall to get a feel of residential life at an American university.

"In Mexico, students go to the university in the city they grew up in and live at home; no one lives in residence halls. It's fun to be so close to all of your friends and just walk down the hall to talk to them," said senior business administration major Maricela Martinez (Queretaro, Mexico).

The students, who have created business plans as part of their entrepreneurship class, presented their plans July 22 to WIU faculty and area leaders. Business plan topics included greenhouse tomato farming, an event planning service, employment agency catering to the outsourcing market, producing and selling regional cheeses found in Ocosingo, Mexico and Vermiculture (the use of worms to create fertilizer).

Sophomore tourism major Deonicio Morales (Chiapas) hopes to take this experience and knowledge back to Mexico and eventually start an eco-tourism enterprise in Chiapas.

"This program provides invaluable experiences to the students from the participating universities, as well as for our faculty and staff," Gates added. "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."

Posted By: Alisha Looney (
Office of University Communications & Marketing