Friday, September 16, 2011

OU Student Serves as Ambassador for German Opportunities

Karin Schutjer,
Deptartment of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics
University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences
(405) 325-1907

NORMAN – Kyle Olson became hooked on Germany during a summer language course in Stuttgart following his freshman year at the University of Oklahoma. In planning his return for a longer stay, he learned of a scholarship opportunity from the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, or German Academic Exchange Service, the German national agency for the support of international academic cooperation. Olson applied, received the scholarship and was able to return to the University of Stuttgart for a full year with all expenses paid.

Now, the civil engineering and economics major with minors in German and international studies is back at OU for his senior year. This year, he has an important new role: as one of 42 student ambassadors across the United States and Canada for the German Academic Exchange Service. Olson’s task is to spread the word to fellow students about the great array of opportunities for study, work and research in Germany, many of which come with full scholarships.

Olson joins a long line of OU students to benefit from the German government's longstanding support of exchange programs. After World War II, the Federal Republic of Germany recognized the need to reject nationalism and open itself up to the world. But an additional motive now helps drive the emphasis on international education. Germany, one of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced economies, is projecting a serious shortage of highly skilled, white-collar workers by the year 2020. Because of its declining birth rate, the country needs to attract the best and brightest from around the world to maintain its standard of living and quality of life.

Olson, just back from training at the German Academic Exchange Service offices in New York City, is ready to begin communicating what he has learned. He will speak at the “German Opportunities Forum,” a part of events planned for OU’s German Language Campus Week, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 26, in 170 Hester Hall, 729 Elm Ave.

Olson sees his role as not just informing students about opportunities, but also reducing institutional obstacles. “I will also be working with faculty and staff to make adjustments that will make studying in Germany more attractive to students,” he says.

What is the next step for Olson after he graduates next spring? He currently has his sights set on the Water Resources Engineering and Management program at the University of Stuttgart. WAREM is one of a number of graduate programs in Germany that are taught in English, attract students from all over the world, and charge little or no tuition.


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