John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

My tour of Madison

You may recall I had the opportunity to take my friend rustydog on a very brief tour of the UW-Madison campus earlier this summer. If she ever makes it back to town and has more than 90 minutes to spare, I'm ready for her, because earlier today I lead four new UW-Madison students of a tour of the city.

As you might expect of the 19th best university in the world, UW-Madison attracts students from all over the world. My church makes a point of reaching out to the international community in Madison: we pick up international students up at the airport and offer temporary housing; host a weekly English conversation session, and a monthly group dinner featuring native dishes prepared by the students; invite them into our homes for Thanksgiving dinner; offer a free immigration law clinic; and at the beginning of the school year, we, along with InterVarsity Fellowship and other area organizations that offer support to the international community, lead new international students on a car tour of the city.

I, of course, don't have a car, so I acted as a "reader." While my partner drove, I read from a script about the various destinations on the tour. It was a fairly comprehensive tour of city ... too comprehensive, maybe, because we weren't able to finish the whole thing before we had to make our way to a reception. We bypassed the outer Capitol loop altogether -- we were really behind schedule, and there's really not much to see on the outer loop anyway -- and we had to lop off the far western side of the campus. But we saw a lot of good stuff, some of which I'd never seen. We went as far west and south as the UW Arboretum, and as far north and east as the Governor's Mansion in Maple Bluff.

My driver and I had four students in our van: two undergrads from China, and two grad students from India. That we ended up with students from those two countries is no surprise; according to the tour organizer, of the 250+ students who signed up for the tour, 60% were from China, and another 20% were from India. I only met two students who weren't from one of those two countries: a young man from Turkey I happened to sit down next to on the bus on the way downtown, and a South African woman at the reception afterward.

Most of the students I met are here for graduate work, and most of those are studying engineering. Most of the ones who won't be studying engineering will be studying some other hard science. I only met one student who isn't here to study science or engineering: a Chinese law student named Denver. Apparently, a lot of the Chinese students like to give themselves Western names when they arrive; I thought maybe she'd chosen that name because she had a layover in Colorado on the way to Wisconsin, but it turns out she chose it simply because it was phonetically similar to her Chinese name. Whatever the reason, I think it was a good choice; when you're one of 150 new Chinese students on campus, it's good to have a name that stands out.
Tags: religion, uw-madison, wisconsin: madison

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