Traveling  
  the  
  Global  
  Highway 

    By Greta Petry 
 

From Albany, the road leads to Moscow, Beijing, and countless other cities and towns abroad. Over the years, thousands of students have taken that road.  

     But now, the University is stepping up efforts to encourage even greater numbers of students to travel that road—both to and from Albany  for the benefits are even more important in today’s global economy. 
    Alumnus Michael Harvey, M.A.’84, C.A.S.’86, exemplifies some of 
the benefits. Today Harvey lives in Moscow and is employed by the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, where he has spent three years working at privatizing land and reorganizing farms. He credits his study-abroad experience with opening the door to his international career path. 
     Beyond broadening career choices, study abroad clearly offers participants a greater awareness of other cultures. 
     Yvonne Henze, a graduate English student at Albany from the Technical University at Braunschweig, Germany, dealt with culture shock on her first trip to an American grocery store. 
She was amazed to find stripes of peanut butter and jelly being sold in glass jars, and had never seen blue Jell-O before. When a man started putting her food in a bag, she did a double-take: she thought he was stealing her groceries. In Germany she bags her own groceries. 
Anike Roche of Brooklyn, who graduated in May, spent the previous fall in the Dominican Republic. She learned to greet everyone in the room with a kiss on the cheek. “It’s not like the U.S., where you would walk into a room and only say hello to those whom you already know,” she said. “That would be considered rude.” 
     “We want to broaden our students’ educational experience by introducing them to new cultures and people from around the world. It’s part of the University’s strategic plan to make Albany an international university,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Judy Genshaft, who earlier this year headed a delegation from Albany to Moscow to celebrate a partnership with Moscow State University that is 21 years old. 
     With help from Assemblyman Edward Sullivan, (D-New York City), chair of the state Assembly Committee on Higher Education, the University received $100,000 in state funding last year to increase the number of students who study abroad and to integrate international education and research into the curriculum. Another $100,000 has been appropriated for 1998-99. 
     Under the Sullivan Initiative, the goal is for 10 percent of the graduating class—an estimated 300 students—to study abroad for a semester by the 
year 2002. Last year, by contrast, approximately 135 Albany students studied abroad. Travel grants are being developed for round trip airfare to countries whose official language is Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish or Arabic, according to Alex Shane, director of International Programs.  
     At one time study abroad was the exclusive domain of juniors and seniors who were often advanced foreign language students. Newer programs are being geared for sophomores and possibly even freshmen, and for students beginning language study. 
     Study abroad builds a global awareness in students and gives them a different perspective on life and the world, noted Shane. “Students are going through a maturation process and study abroad accelerates that. The students discover that they are representatives of American culture and that their own assumptions about our culture are not shared by the rest of the world,” he added. 
     Yvonne Henze voiced a common sentiment expressed by students who opt for the adventure of life outside of their native country. 
     “The best thing for me was and still is to see that I can handle my life on my own even in another country without my friends and the environment I am used to,” she said. “Every little thing you can handle is a feeling of success.” 
     Last year there were 742 international students at the University from more than 70 countries. Albany has approximately 70 agreements with institutions in other countries, and students have access to 300 SUNY study abroad programs. 
The University has long had international ties. It was the first institution in the nation to establish a partnership with Russia. 
     Alumnus Harvey, who now lives in Moscow, joined the Russian master’s program at Albany in 1982, living in a residence hall with eight students from Moscow. 
     “I remember watching with them, on TV, the touchdown of the first U.S. shuttle, as well as news of Leonid Brezhnev’s death in the fall of 1982,” he noted. 
     “After my first year of Russian study at Albany, I found a summer job on Russian trawlers in the north Pacific for a Soviet-American joint venture,” wrote Harvey in an  
e-mail from Russia. “I lived and worked on these trawlers for 69 days interpreting radio traffic between Soviet captains and U.S. fishermen who delivered fish directly to the trawlers in U.S. waters.” He learned to recognize various species of fish and reported this information to the U.S. fishermen so they were sure of being paid fairly. 
     “After the U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan, former President Jimmy Carter placed a wheat embargo on exports to Russia and forbade its trawlers from catching fish in U.S. waters. An enterprising fellow realized that underemployed U.S. fishermen could catch the fish for the Soviets and deliver it at sea to them. It was a fantastic adventure,” said Harvey. An article and photos about the joint American-Soviet enterprise appeared in Life magazine in August 1983. 
In September 1983, Harvey left the ship and flew to Moscow, where he studied at Moscow State University. 
     “The semester abroad was incredible,” wrote Harvey. “To summarize the experience though, I’d say that I left the U.S.S.R. hating the Soviet system, but loving the Russian people and their culture. I was addicted to learning more about them and wanting to work more with them.” 
On a visit to the Albany campus in 1987 to see his former professors, Harvey saw a notice on the bulletin board that asked, “How would you like to travel around the Soviet Union, meet a lot of Russians and get paid for it?” 
     This led to a job with the U.S. Information Agency to work on cultural exchange exhibits that opened every two months in cities across the U.S.S.R. 
     “My study of Russian at the University at Albany opened doors to amazing adventures and experiences,” wrote Harvey. “I am very grateful to the professors at Albany who opened my eyes to Russian culture.” 
     Over the past two decades 149 graduate students and 66 undergraduates from the University have studied in Moscow. During that same time, 61 graduate students and 68 undergraduates from Moscow State University have studied in Albany. 
     Albany has also long had ties to other parts of the world. Last November, several alumni who studied Chinese at Albany in the 1970s were reunited in Beijing at the bar mitzvah of Ari Lee, the son of Mike (Pui-Chick) Lee, B.S.’81, and Elyse Beth Silverberg, B.A.’79. 
     In a recent e-mail from China, Silverberg wrote, “I left for China in 1979 on our study abroad program and have been here ever since. My husband, Michael, and I have made China our home.” Family, friends, and the entire Jewish community of Beijing attended. Albany alumni included Mark Cohen, B.A.’76, Lawrence Pemble, B.A.’79, Erica Marcus, B.A.’78, and Walter Stryker Jr., B.A.’81. 



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