WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 17, 2015) — Political, diplomatic and educational leaders from the state of Minnesota and from throughout the Middle East gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 24, to celebrate the personal connections established by Middle Eastern and North African scholars and students in Minnesota.
“This event was a targeted effort to attract Middle Eastern students to Minnesota,” said Executive Director of the Minnesota Trade Office Kathleen Motzenbecker. “The special geographic, cultural and religious diversity that Middle Eastern students bring to our campuses and the bridges that they build between our societies make them an important asset to our communities.”
Congressional Representative Keith Ellison welcomed dignitaries, including former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Samuel Kaplan and his wife Sylvia and Major General Richard Nash, who led the Minnesota National Guard’s mission in Iraq.
Co-sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the Study Minnesota Consortium, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, Explore Minnesota Tourism, the Minnesota District Export Council and the U.S. Department of Commerce, the event brought together Middle Eastern cultural and international education specialists from the U.S.
In her welcoming remarks to the more than 125 attendees, Motzenbecker said, “Alumni from Minnesota’s world-class educational institutions stand out in a variety of fields – as scientists and statesmen, as engineers and entrepreneurs, as poets and peacemakers – and we are proud to claim them as our own.”
According to NAFSA’s Open Doors Report, in the 2013-2014 academic year foreign students and their families contributed a net economic benefit to Minnesota of $354 million and 3,775 total jobs.
David Edmiston, with the U.S. Commercial Service in Minneapolis, explained the strong interest that this first-of-its-kind event has generated: “These students enrich the academic and cultural life of schools and communities throughout the state, and make significant contributions to the local economy. The personal connections that they establish create enduring bonds of friendship and understanding that last well into the future.”
Private sector sponsors of the event included International School of Minnesota in Eden Prairie, a member of the SABIS network of schools; Minnesota International Medicine, a Minneapolis-based company that facilitates medical treatment for international patients; and international student insurance provider Sahouri Insurance and Financial.
Other participants in the event included the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA Network, and representatives of 20 Minnesota schools, colleges and universities, including the president of St. Cloud State University, Dr. Earl Potter III, and the president of Augsburg College, Dr. Paul Pribbenow.
The following Minnesota schools had representatives at the reception:
Bemidji State University
College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University
College of St. Scholastica
ELS Language Centers
Global Language Institute
The International School of Minnesota
Metropolitan State University
Minnesota State University, Mankato
St. Catherine University
St. Cloud State University
St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
St. Olaf College
University of Minnesota – Duluth
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
University of St. Thomas
Winona State University
Study Minnesota is a non-profit organization run by and for Minnesota educational institutions engaged in international student recruitment. With more than thirty institutions representing public universities, private four-year colleges, community colleges, college preparatory schools, and English-language institutes, Study Minnesota promotes a coordinated effort to bring international students – and the economic, cultural and academic benefits that accompany them – to Minnesota. Study Minnesota enjoys the active support of the Minnesota Trade Office and the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce.