Higher education visitors from Eurasia found themselves more than 5,200 miles from home May 9 when they met with MTSU faculty and administrators.
Call it an exchange of ideas as five Republic of Serbia university representatives, a facilitator, an interpreter and several others toured MTSU and gained a quick glimpse of the university’s aerospace, agriculture, Concrete Industry Management and engineering technology/mechatronics engineering programs.
They were visiting area educational institutions to learn American ways of educating youth for future employment.
While here, they were taking part in the congressionally sponsored Open World program to bring young political and civic leaders from Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Kosovo and other Eurasian countries to the United States for short-term professional trips to expose them to ideas and practices they can utilize in their own work.
“This was a good experience, to see how a big university works,” said Milena Ostevic, the facilitator of the group. “American higher education focuses on practicality, and that’s what we’re trying to get in Serbia.”
Ostevic said the unemployment rate in Serbia, which is located at the crossroads of central and southeast Europe, is 50 percent for everybody under the age of 30. They hope their findings can help lower the rate.
During lunch in the Student Union, they met with University Provost Brad Bartel and Alumni Relations Director Ginger Freeman.
An archaeologist with bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology, Bartel told them about performing research in Serbia.
“My years there were wonderful,” said Bartel, whose projects included the excavation of the Roman city of Sirmium and Roman metallurgical site of Kraku’lu Yordan in Serbia.
“We have strong partnerships with other universities around the world, but we don’t have any with Serbian universities,” he said, adding that he hopes MTSU can “work on a more permanent relationship” in the future.
The Serbian university officials included:
- adviser Marina Savkovic of Singidunum University;
- career adviser Milica Milenkovic of the University of Kragujevac;
- international relations officer Bojana Ivanovic of the University of Belgrade;
- Dejan Jankovic, a member of the agriculture faculty in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at the University of Novi Sad; and
- Fikret Halilovic, Dream Group manager at the State University of Novi Pazar.
Milijana Trobradovich served as interpreter.
Department chairs Ron Ferrara from aerospace, Warren Gill from the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience and Concrete Industry Management’s Heather Brown joined professor Ahad Nasab in coordinating the campus activities for the visitors.
They were hosted by members of the South Central Tennessee Chapter of The Friendship Force International in Columbia, Tullahoma, Lynchburg and Estill Springs and day-hosted in Winchester and Sewanee. George Stone of Tullahoma organized the group.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)