Bender, Urza to receive awards for international awareness

4/2/2009 - By: Skyler Dillon

The Northern Nevada International Center will honor two University of Nevada, Reno officials for their global perspective at its 10th annual Global Gala fundraiser April 3 at the Eldorado Hotel-Casino in Reno.

Susie Bender, director of the University's Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), and Carmelo Urza, director of the campus-based University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), will receive the center's International Award for their commitment to the gala's theme of "renewing American friendship with the world." Mary Lewellen, program chair for Sierra Nevada College's International Studies and Global Management program, will also receive the award.

Tickets for the gala, which begins at 6 p.m., are $50. The evening will include performances by the Namira Belly-Dancers, the Jelly Bread Rock Band and the Sierra Nevada Balalaika Society as well as live and silent auctions. Event sponsorship opportunities are available by calling (775) 784-7515.

NNIC executive director Carina Black said she believes the recipients, nominated by the public, could not be more deserving. "There aren't a lot of us working to promote international awareness in Reno," Black said, "so it's a great honor to work with such devoted people."

Bender said international awareness is more important now than ever. "Any problem you can identify, you have to address it from a global perspective to be successful," she said. "We are inescapably international."

To help students and faculty worldwide feel more comfortable on the global scene, Urza offers them opportunities to study abroad in through programs in 25 different countries, including the U.S. Roughly 25,000 people have traveled and studied through USAC since its founding on campus in 1982.

The University welcomes international students as well as producing them. Through the International Students and Scholars office, Bender helps students from foreign countries feel at home in Nevada and educates native-born students about cultural diversity throughout campus.

"Right now there are 700 students from 80 different countries on campus. Talk to some of them," urged Bender. "Go to an International Club event. Study abroad. There are so many opportunities."

Having both lived and studied abroad themselves, Urza and Bender can relate first hand the benefits that a global perspective offers students.

"It provides you with a whole new way of looking at your own country and of looking at yourself," said Urza. "It gives you confidence. It's invaluable."

Global Gala keynote speaker Cari Guittard, executive director of Business for Diplomatic Action, will lead a breakfast roundtable for business executives at 8 a.m. April 3 at the Siena Hotel in Reno. Black hopes the discussion will help participants learn how to improve relationships with other countries.

"Every American has the responsibility to foster diplomacy," she said.

The Northern Nevada International Center promotes international cultural awareness through its International Visitor Leader Program and by offering language and cultural lessons and programs as well as interpreting services.


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