International students share global perspective with Willamette community

In France, the presidential term is five years, and in South Africa, the Parliament elects the president. Japanese leadership recently shifted from the Liberal Democratic Party to the Democratic Party of Japan, and Argentina has a 257-member Chamber of Deputies, half of whom stand for re-election every two years.

These are but a sampling of the facts shared in the most recent issue of the Willamette World News blog, a biweekly publication where Willamette University's international students share current events, traditions and other perspectives on life in their home countries.

Sponsored by Willamette's Language Learning Center, the blog gives international students the chance to educate others about their homes, while providing the rest of the Willamette community with unique insight into world affairs. Willamette has 145 international students from 39 countries on campus this fall — 13 currently write blog entries, and four others serve as editors.

The latest issue focuses on politics abroad. Past topics have addressed everything from telecommunication in Kenya to the Polish economy to terrorism in Thailand.

Editor Jan Taborsky '10, MBA'11, who is from the Czech Republic, says the blog allows international students to be ambassadors for their home countries and to share their national pride with the Willamette community. He also sees the blog as a way to provoke discussion and awareness of foreign cultures.

"Some of the writers get really into it," he says. "Students from countries like Nigeria or Bangladesh that aren't often discussed feel like the blog is a good opportunity to represent their home."

Natalia Shevchenko, director of the Language Learning Center, calls the blog a resource with the aim of informing the academic community via less traditional media. She says the blog comes with much more than text on a website — it opens doors to an international outlook. 

"Another important part of this project is a catalog of Willamette's resources for international studies and languages," she says. "These include things like the LLC's international satellite broadcasts; a list of online newspapers, magazines and radio stations; and the Hatfield Library's foreign language video collections and newspaper and magazine subscriptions."

The blog has more than 2,000 readers each issue — some from the Willamette community, and some from families and friends of past and present international students.

"We have readers in Canada, western Europe, South America," Taborsky says. "Those readers abroad are mostly alumni and families, but it's good to know that we're sharing the information around the globe."

The blog has been active since 2003. Read it here: