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Rosefsky’s vision sees 20 years of success

When Israel Rosefsky, a local pediatrician, established the Dr. Israel J. Rosefsky Language and Culture Scholarship Fund 20 years ago, his vision was to enable students to study abroad, using foreign language, and to promote world peace.

Since then, 271 scholars have done just that, and some of them joined with faculty, staff and Rosefsky’s son, Jonathan, during last weekend’s inaugural reunion during Homecoming.

Jonathan Rosefsky, a retired physician and now entrepreneur, spoke about the legacy his parents left him — the understanding that learning languages and experiencing other cultures should be mandatory “for everyone to understand each other better and help us get along.”

A highlight of Rosefsky’s remarks underscored the importance of language as he spoke phrases in at least 10 different languages. The one he translated for the audience from German into English demonstrated the importance of being practical when traveling abroad: “Don’t leave your handbag on the radiator.”

President Lois B. DeFleur spoke of the tremendous impact that the Rosefsky fund has had on the University.

“It has changed the course of the University and enabled us to do various things in internationalization, and it has obviously changed the course of the lives of over 270 students,” she said. “What is most important is, if you look at the trajectory of their careers, they are all very successful because they have gained that broader perspective, problem-solving skills and language skills that are what the world wants and needs today.”

Following a reunion luncheon, H. Stephen Straight, professor of anthropology and of linguistics and senior adviser for international initiatives, spoke about how learning languages and about other cultures are imperative for success in the 21st century.

There is a global rise in the use of English, Straight noted, but, in comparison to European Union countries where 60 percent of high school students currently study two foreign languages, “the U.S. education system does not do much to prepare U.S. citizens to make effective use of this burgeoning importance of multilingual sources of insight, to say nothing of enabling them to use the world’s languages in business, education, research or public diplomacy.”

Calling a Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum model inspirational, Straight reinforced all that the Rosefsky fund espouses — that there is a need to emphasize cultural content within all disciplines and to develop cross-cultural skills, including languages, that will foster understanding and prepare students who will be adaptable, lifelong learners within multiple cultures, at home or abroad.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08