FAYETTE, Iowa (February 17, 2009) -Senior Elaine Hui Shan Tan is a student at Upper Iowa University-Malaysia, but will be spending this semester at the Fayette campus fulfilling her internship requirements, as well as taking a few courses. Tan's graduation will also be twice as special because she plans to walk in two ceremonies-one this May in Fayette and one in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when she returns home.
Tan is double majoring in communications and psychology and interning her first eight weeks with the UIU International Programs group, translating several manuals into her native Malay language and other projects. She says the staff is having fun learning her language and exchanging quips on various words. Next term, Tan will do her psychology internship with faculty in that department.
This is Tan's first trip to the U.S. and she says there are many differences she likes and some not so much. For example, she arrived in Cedar Rapids one week before the minus 34 degree temperatures hit, setting all-time record lows. The year-round temperature in Malaysia averages 82 degrees with high humidity. "I had to borrow a coat, hat and gloves from people I knew who had visited the States in winter before, because I don't own a winter coat," explained Tan.
One experience Tan says she is especially enjoying is dorm life, something new to her. "I love having my own room and students and things going on around me all of the time," she said. "It has given me a chance to meet so many new people, and I am never lonely or bored." Tan keeps in touch with her family through Facebook so she has not gotten homesick.
Other activities Tan keeps busy doing are attending athletic events, going on movie and mall trips, spending a lot of time studying in the library and church on Sundays at Elgin's First Baptist Church. She even went to a Super Bowl Party. "I don't understand football because we don't have it in Malaysia," said Tan. "Anyway, the men watched the game in the living room, while the women hung around the kitchen talking and eating."
Dr. DeWayne Frazier, senior vice president of International Programs, was instrumental in Tan's coming to Upper Iowa in Fayette. "The first time I met Elaine Tan was at the grand opening of the Fayette House in Kuala Lumpur," said Frazier. "I will never forget the words she shared at the ceremony about the importance of the American degree program in her native land, and it was at that moment I truly understood why UIU has centers overseas. One student at a time, we are making a difference in so many lives. "
Over the past two years, the number of international students studying on the Fayette campus has grown from 6 to 45 students. "We hope to continue to grow this number in keeping with Upper Iowa's strategic plan, which encourages the seamless movement of students at our university and creating an environment in which diversity is respected, encouraged and nurtured," said Frazier.
Frazier added, "I am sure that someday Elaine will be one of the leaders of her country, and I will be proud to claim that Upper Iowa had a role in shaping this young lady's future."
Upper Iowa University's American degree program in Malaysia is a joint venture with SEGi University College in Malaysia. UIU and SEGi currently offer the program in five locations across Malaysia including, Kota Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Subang Jaya and Penang. UIU has operated undergraduate programs in Malaysia for over 10 years.
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