LATEST: Community benefits from foreign students - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

LATEST: Community benefits from foreign students

LATEST: Community benefits from foreign students

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by Elizabeth Fay

WAUSAU (WAOW)--Foreign students and their families contributed nearly 18 billion dollars to the U.S. Economy during the 2008-2009 academic year. That's according to a recent report from the Association of International Educators. Statewide, they say foreign students and their families are contributing close to 200 million dollars to Wisconsin's Economy.

Rabia Akhdar and Ronaldo Chicareli are both international students at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau. The study abroad program gives them a chance to learn about the language, culture and people of the United States, and it all comes at a price.

"Our international students in the Wausau community bring in about 1.7 million dollars of money that circulates and helps our economy grow, and that's through housing, food, and the different things that they buy while they are here, "says Associate Director of NTC's International Education, Bonnie Bissonette.

In fact, the report says in the 2008-2009 academic year, area colleges contributed more than 9 million dollars to Wisconsin's 7th congressional district.

Beyond the economic impact they are making cultural contributions as well. An NTC student created a sculpture that now stands in Whitewater Park in Wausau. "One of the Egyptians students who is here wanted to communicate how important he felt it was that he was welcomed to Wausau" says Bissonette.

Other NTC students share their language, food, and customs through cultural events held around the community.

"I was [surprised] about the number of people who came to see traditions about my country that they don't know," says Chicareli.

While international students help Americans discover foreign cultures, locals are returning the favor.

"There are so many things like Ice skating that I could have never learned in Pakistan," says Akhdar.

They also help break misconceptions.

"I thought that people all over United states are really busy and don't have much of a family life and they don't pay attention to new people, or maybe I wouldn't be able to make new friends, but actually it's the other way around," adds Akhdar.

It's an exchange program that not only improves the economy but also cultural understanding.

 For more information on Northcentral Technical College's International Education program, click on the following link.

http://www.ntc.edu/courses/internationaled_contact.htm

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