Following is an article by Angel B. Perez, vice-president and dean of admission and financial aid at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Perez offers an eloquent description of the experience of recruiting international students, where as "storyteller-in-chief" he translates the experience and values of an American education for students around the world. A must-read for all who are interested in or curious about why colleges value international diversity. This article originally appeared in The Times Higher Education in the United Kingdom.
I was in South Africa giving a college presentation to young women at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls when I asked if anyone in the audience had questions for me. "Before you came to Africa, Sir, did you believe there were wild animals roaming around in the streets?" asked an eager young woman. As the audience giggled, I laughed and replied, "No I did not, and for my safety, I'm glad to see my beliefs are confirmed."
She was half-kidding, of course, but her interest in the perception of Africa in other countries was genuine. What followed was a powerful conversation about perception versus truth, and how education transforms how we experience each other's cultures.