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Building connections across continents

In an effort to enhance world connections at USF, dignitaries from the University of Malaysia in Sarawak met with administrators at USF and signed a memorandum Tuesday that is expected to open up student and faculty exchanges between the two colleges. Located off the tip of Malaysia lies Borneo, the third largest island in the world. Surrounded by dense forests and rugged mountain passes, UNIMAS, which was constructed in 1993, hosts 6,000 students in a college resembling the design of an island beach resort.

In order to become more acquainted with USF, chancellors and deans from the Malaysian college have been touring various departments throughout the past week.

According to education professor Michael Churton, USF does not have a single study-abroad program in Southeast Asia.

“One of the objectives of this grant is for the University of South Florida to develop a concentrated study in Southeast Asia,” he said.

According to UNIMAS’ Web site, the college offers a variety of programs in business, engineering, computer sciences, social sciences, medicine, research and fine arts.

“With (the signing of the memorandum), any part of the University can create opportunities or projects with the University in Malaysia,” Churton said.

Funds for education, health and area studies are three curriculums included in the grant, he said. “But once we get (the three curriculums) underway, we can use the funding to assist in other areas as well.”

Soon both colleges will be able to reap the benefits of this agreement.

“By collaborating with USF our (research) work will be known internationally,” said Henry Gudum, a dean at UNIMAS.

In addition, this understanding will enable USF students the chance to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I think students will find a multicultural environment that brings together Islam, Christianity and indigenous groups. So students can experience something unique that they’re not going to find anywhere else on the planet.”