Center for International Collections Exhibit Highlights OHIO’s Global Connections

President Emeritus Dr. Ping with students at the International Street Fair, ca early 1980s. (Photo courtesy of Ohio University's Mahn Center)
President Emeritus Dr. Ping with students at the International Street Fair, ca early 1980s. (Photo courtesy of Ohio University’s Mahn Center)

The Libraries’ Center for International Collections had some tough decisions to make when choosing materials for its International Education display. 

Exhibit organizers Jeff Ferrier, curator of the Center for International Collections, and Araba Dawson-Andoh, Africana subject librarian, suffered an embarrassment of riches — they had over four decades of materials to draw from.

Ferrier explained that the University was globally engaged long before the phrase became a buzzword. Early on, he said, Presidents Emeriti Dr. Vernon Alden and Dr. Charles J. Ping decided international education was important.

They acted accordingly. Since the 1960s, OHIO has expanded its focus beyond campus and national boundaries. Dr. Alden spearheaded the University’s international studies programs, and Dr. Ping strengthened exchange programs in Africa and Asia, attracting over 1,000 international students to the Athens campus.  Today, the University enjoys a unique global network, including time-honored partnerships with the Federation of Malaysia, the Republic of Botswana, and Japan’s Chubu University.

“We’re kind of ahead of the curve,” Ferrier said.

The Center for International Collection’s exhibit tells the stories of these relationships with correspondence, newspaper clippings and photographs from the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections. Gifts received from international colleagues — including tapestries, baskets, and ostrich eggs from Botswana etched with ornate designs — are dispersed throughout.

Included in the collection are pictures of OHIO President Emeritus Dr. Ping and Chubu Institute President Emeritus Dr. Yamada planting cherry trees given to OHIO as an anniversary gift along the Hocking River. Another photo shows Dr. Ping with senator and astronaut John Glenn at a celebration held in Washington, D.C. to recognize American-Malaysian partnerships.

The display also highlights the Libraries’ prominent role in the OHIO’s international outreach: it has served as a depository for the governments of Malaysia and Botswana, housing official documents and publications, since the late 1980s. “It’s unique, and something we’re proud of,” Ferrier said.

Her excellency Tebelelo Seretse, ambassador of Botswana, visited Alden Library in 2011. This year the Libraries welcomes Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, the most honorable Muhyiddin Yassin, to tour the exhibit and depository.

The display, located on the first floor of Alden Library and open through the end of the semester, was assembled in recognition of International Education week, which OHIO celebrates Tuesday, November 12th through Saturday, November 16th. International Education week is a nationwide initiative of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education’s International Education Week efforts to promote global engagement.