Monday, July 20, 2009

International Students and Why Being a Professor is the Best Job in the World

This past Saturday, as I had mentioned in a previous posting, my family and I had the pleasure of hosting one of my former MBA students, who was visiting the US from Colombia, South America. They traveled from Bogota to NYC and spent a week there with their relatives before coming to Amherst. What could be more wonderful for a faculty member than to see a former student who has graduated and is now making a mark on the world and who is successful both professionally and personally. This former MBA student of mine wanted to have his family experience where he received his MBA and it was such a delight to be able to reconnect and to reminisce with him.

Of course, it was also terrific fun to hear about the professors at the School of Management at UMass Amherst that he remembered and that had made an impact on him (and to hear from him who he considered to be the toughest among my colleagues). It was also fascinating to hear him talk about all the special places in Amherst and Northampton that he wanted to make sure that his family saw. We got to meet not only his wife and daughters but also his sister who is in environmental education and studying at NYU and his brother-in-law who is getting his PhD at the University of Chicago.

My former student, Roberto, was my research assistant at UMass Amherst while I was doing a lot of work at the supercomputing center at Cornell University (which was perfect since his father had studied at Cornell) and Roberto was trained as a computer engineer. Roberto went on to work for Colombian Coffee and is now working for a big financial services firm in Colombia and is still involved in raising and riding horses. We got a chance to discuss the economic and political climate in Colombia and to hear, first-hand, what is happening there. Having international students provides an education like no other and, as faculty members, we get to hear what is occurring in various countries even before the news is reported in the media. As a faculty member, one never stops learning and we are very lucky to have the best jobs in the world.