Unity in Diversity: Global scholarship program connects cultures

Gettysburg College is bigger than a 200-acre campus in south central Pennsylvania – much bigger. The College not only produces graduates who live and work in locales around the world, but it also enhances global consciousness and multicultural understanding on campus through participation in the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholars Program.
“The program allows international students from United World Colleges to gain valuable educational experiences from institutions in the United States,” said Gettysburg senior and Mahindra UWC of India alumnus Samir Lalvani. “[It also] encourages us to showcase our knowledge and culture to create unity in diversity.”
Since 2007, Gettysburg has partnered with the Davis UWC Scholars Program, the largest privately-funded international undergraduate scholarship program in the world. The program, which assists more than 2,500 undergraduates from 146 nations, eliminates many of the economic obstacles facing today’s international students by providing institutional grants that support need-based scholarships.
“[The program] gives students the opportunity to reach high levels of education and become international citizens, which enables them to become the change-makers of tomorrow,” said first-year Asger Hansen, a citizen of Denmark and participant of UWC Red Cross Nordic.
Samir Lalvani '13“Without the grants of the program, many UWC students would hold back from [attending any university] but their home countries’, which would, in a way, be detrimental to the UWC philosophy,” Lalvani added.
United World Colleges promote education as a force that can unite people, nations and cultures, and inspire peace and a sustainable future. To reach this end goal, however, the UWC movement requires a diverse cross section of students who can develop into effective leaders.
UWC scholars are initially selected by independent evaluation committees in their home countries. Once chosen, they complete their final two years of high school at one of 12 UWC sites around the world, including hubs in Hong Kong, India and the United Kingdom.
While at the UWC locations, students are taught nine central ideals deemed critical for the promotion of peace: international and intercultural understanding, celebration of difference, personal responsibility and integrity, mutual responsibility and respect, compassion and service, respect for the environment, a sense of idealism, personal challenge and action, and personal example.
Upon graduation, students have the opportunity to enroll at any of the 90 UWC partnering colleges and universities in the U.S. This year, Lalvani, Hansen and five other UWC students are building cultural connections and pursuing their academic dreams at Gettysburg.
Four of the UWC scholars“Gettysburg helps you realize your potential and has multiple avenues for [your] development,” Lalvani said. “Apart from the strong academics, [I’ve served as] a leadership mentor for the Garthwait Leadership Center and studied abroad in Florence last fall.”

Lalvani’s interest in studying abroad while at the College comes with good reason. In 2012-13, the College earned a No. 7 ranking in the nation by the Institute of International Education for mid-length (one semester) duration of study abroad among baccalaureate leading institutions. The school also ranked No. 27 for the total number of students abroad based on category.

From studying outside the country to inside Musselman Library, the international experience has been rewarding for the College’s UWC scholars.

“Gettysburg has forced me outside of my comfort zone,” said senior Monique Browne of UWC Costa Rica. “It has had its challenges, but overall, I would say that it has been a positive experience.”

“Although everything is very new [at Gettysburg College] and it takes some getting used to, people seem to be very nice and the academics are definitely of high standards,” Hansen said. “What I especially like about the College is that it has all the facilities you could possibly imagine to do whatever you want to do. Freedom is at the tip of your toes.”

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Mike Baker, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6521.

Posted: Mon, 26 Nov 2012

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