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I was perplexed by your editorial (“Dressed For Success,” Oct. 31) likening Barack Obama’s dress to a foreign exchange student’s and perhaps not fitting in. In my experience, people in other countries dress more carefully, professionally and stylishly than many Americans. In fact, anyone traveling abroad is reminded to “not look like an American tourist,” meaning no sneakers, sweats or backward baseball caps.
There are 582,984 foreign students studying in higher education in the U.S., bringing $14.5 billion dollars to America, including $33 million to Maine. UMaine’s valedictorian and salutatorian last year and the 2006 outstanding electrical engineering student in the United States are all UMaine international students. International students are risk-takers who leave behind families and all that is familiar to pursue an education that can be used at home in preparation for a successful life. They are motivated and hard-working with a focus on the future – as is President-elect Obama.
Like foreign exchange students who will be the next generation of world leaders, Obama used each day to reach out, learn about and understand the many cultures in the U.S. to use that knowledge for a better world. We can all learn a lot from foreign students.
The university’s annual “Culturefest,” is Saturday, Nov. 8, in the Field House from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event is free and provides a window to the cultures, foods and countries of our nearly 400 international students and scholars.
Office of International Programs and National Student Exchange