Domestic students benefit from multi-cultural campus, global educational approach

2/3/2017 2:38:11 PM

"We very much welcome the international character of our student bodies because our domestic students are given a multicultural experience that makes them more effective engineers in the global arena, and our international students becomes advocates for USA cultural and professional values when they return to their home countries."

— Benito Mariñas, Department Head

Brandon Lung

CEE at Illinois student from Park Ridge, Ill.

On the benefit of cross-cultural interactions…
I believe that interacting with other students with different backgrounds helps gain a better understanding of how to work well with people. Looking from their perspective on culture and how they view the world encourages a learning institution to see the world in a larger picture. Not only will this help us be more empathetic towards others, but it will help us produce conducive brainstorming no matter the other’s culture.

On future possibilities…
When I first arrived to U of I, I believed when I graduated that I was going to get a job in the United States and maybe stay close to home. However, after being at U of I for four years, I now understand that there are many different countries that need civil engineers. civil engineers help people have an easier way of living. The United States is already a developed country, and there is a greater need for civils in developing countries to establish a strong foundation for their people. It opened my mind to see all of the options that a degree from the [Department of] Civil and Environmental Engineering can have on the entire world.

On transitioning to a professional workplace…
I feel like the way CEE immerses all the students together no matter their culture or religion helps establish a sense of normality when it comes to eventually working in the professional world. A diverse college allows students to transition well into the working world. It won’t come as a shock when you are dealing with clients or other co-workers that are much different from you because you learned to adapt to different people and cultures in college.

Julia Chang

CEE at Illinois student from Chicago, Ill.

On studying abroad… 
The University of Illinois is only a few hundred miles from home.  London is a few thousand.  Going cross-continental exposed me to different people and different ways of life.  There were no Walmarts or excessively stocked dining halls.  I saw a society that focused much more on public transportation and conservative living.  But at the same time, I noticed some cultural disconnects.  I missed the easy openness and friendliness of American culture.  I hated having to pay for public restrooms. I think it really helped me to discover what I loved about my home, and what needs to change. (about her fall 2015 semester abroad in London)

On breaking down barriers…
Interacting with people of different nationalities/backgrounds has absolutely broadened my perspectives and knowledge of different nations and cultures.  Within the department, I have worked with students from China, India, Pakistan, Ecuador and many more. It definitely breaks down barriers of “us” and “them” when we are working together on the same problem or project.

On global perspectives…
I think it’s very important to provide a global perspective in engineering because it is our responsibility to find better solutions to problems, and sometimes those solutions come from outside our borders.

Ilana Slutsky

CEE at Illinois student from Glenview, Ill.

On cultural differences…
In addition to meeting peers from abroad at this university I have also gained an international perspective through a semester abroad in Madrid and a 2 week cultural immersion trip to China. From these experiences I was truly able to see how cultural differences play into interactions between people.  These different mindsets are important to understanding in our global environment as it can have a strong impact on the communication between people of different cultures.


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