April 10 was not a normal day for Strasser, professor of German. Instead of lecturing to one of his classes, Strasser maneuvered a minibus over the mountains toward the Amish markets in Belleville, describing local history through an intercom system to a dozen visiting international Fulbright scholars and students. His passengers had already heard a lecture on Amish culture the evening before by Ernst Schurer, also a professor of German, and were now on their way to see the people, their buggies and their auction, taste food from Amish stalls and buy crafts from Amish shops.
This tour was the third arranged during this academic year by members of the Central Pennsylvania Fulbright Association and the International Hospitality Council. The tours were funded by a mini-grant from the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers to enrich the experience of Penn State's international Fulbright visitors. The first two outings were day tours of Boalsburg and Bellefonte during the fall semester, where visitors heard local history, met civic leaders and went on walking tours. During the spring semester, they also had the chance to experience Pennsylvania farm life by staying with Mennonite families.
This year, the number of visiting Fulbright scholars climbed to a record high of 14, while visiting Fulbright students numbered 25. In addition, the University has led the nation for the last two years in the number of Penn State faculty and staff members winning Fulbright grants -- 14 were successful in 1995-96 and 16 in 1994-95.
"People are changed by international experiences," President Graham B. Spanier said, "especially through immersion in another culture, but also by extending hospitality on one's own turf. The chance to learn about others and the chance for others to learn about us are equally important to the development of mutual understanding, tolerance and respect."
Strasser brought President Spanier's words to life as he parked his minibus beside the Amish buggies and released his cargo of Latin Americans, Europeans and South East Asians into the markets at Belleville.
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