April 7, 2004

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Contact: Lynn Bretz, University Relations, (785) 864-8866.

Symposium to celebrate student, faculty exchange between Costa Rica, KU, KSU

LAWRENCE -- For almost 60 years the University of Kansas and the University of Costa Rica have collaborated on student and faculty exchanges.

A symposium today through April 9 at KU will celebrate the oldest surviving university exchange in the Western Hemisphere and examine topics of interest to KU, UCR and Kansas State University, which joined the exchange in 1984.

Formal exchange activities between KU and the University of Costa Rica date to at least 1946, when five of the 19 international students at KU were from Costa Rica. The KU-UCR exchange blossomed in the 1960s when several U.S. universities began formal exchange agreements modeled after one forged between KU and UCR.

About 400 KU students have studied at the University of Costa Rica since the exchange's inception. There are 15 Costa Rican students among the 1,600 international students enrolled at KU.

KU's semester/academic year program in San Jose has 39 students this semester -- 13 are KU students and 26 are students from other U.S. universities who enrolled in the KU program. A unique feature of the KU program places U.S. students in classrooms with Costa Rican students rather than in special courses for foreign students.

"This unique and extraordinary exchange agreement has provided hundreds of KU and University of Costa Rica students and faculty with opportunities to benefit from study abroad as well as conduct field research important to citizens in both nations," KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said. "I look forward to welcoming our colleagues from the University of Costa Rica. We continue to learn from each other as we work together."

More than 30 UCR faculty members and administrators will travel to Lawrence to attend the symposium, and some will meet with their exchange partners. Faculty and staff panelists from KU, KSU and UCR will speak on subjects including free trade, ecotourism and the future of international educational collaboration.

"The symposium will provide an opportunity for colleagues to share cross-cultural perspectives on important social issues and continue development of student and faculty exchange programs," said Ann Weick, KU dean of social welfare and chair of the symposium planning committee.

The last KU-KSU-University of Costa Rica symposium in Lawrence was in 1999. It featured a keynote address by Oscar Arias Sanchez, former president of Costa Rica and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

For more information about the symposium go to www.international.ku.edu/symposium or call (785) 864-6161.

Notable recent exchange programs and activities:

 • KU's anthropology department will send 10 students to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica, to study field methods in applied cultural anthropology this summer.

 • More than 30 Kansas elementary and secondary teachers have visited Costa Rica since 1994 as participants in three separate Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad. The first group studied how democracy is taught, the second group studied the economy, environment and culture of Golfito, and the third group learned about childhood education.

 • The KU School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the UCR Escuela de Comunicaciones participated in an academic and cultural exchange program. In May 2003, 12 KU students traveled to Costa Rica to study media and marketing for 10 days. In February 2004, three UCR students and one faculty member visited KU for one month to participate in journalism courses, practicums and presentations at KU.

 • Two KU and UCR journalism professors are researching a successful marketing communications campaign in Costa Rica for a locally made fruit drink.

 • The UCR and KU social welfare schools sponsor a summer intensive seminar for a group of KU social work students and faculty instructors who spend two weeks studying Costa Rican social services, social policy and culture. This summer, the School of Social Welfare also will pilot a monthlong Spanish language intensive at the University of Costa Rica for KU social work students.

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