Moritz Gehlhaus always wanted to travel around the world.
Growing up in Landsberg am Lech, Germany, he was inspired by family members who journeyed abroad.
“I always wanted to study out of the country and go out of the country,” said Gehlhaus, now a sophomore tennis player at Georgia Regents University. “My uncle was working in Asia. My father was traveling a lot.”
Gehlhaus traveled around Europe when he was younger, but his first trip out of the continent was in high school when he went to Brazil.
“I had the idea to come to the U.S. when I was in Brazil because I was doing an exchange there and playing tennis,” Gehlhaus said. “A recruiter there asked me if I wanted to study abroad in the U.S.”
He went back to Germany, finished high school and then came to GRU in fall 2014.
Gehlhaus is one of hundreds of thousands of international students who study in the U.S. each year, bringing different perspectives and experiences to college campuses across the country.
“As we celebrate International Education Week, it’s important to remind our campus community of the value of bringing international students here,” said L.D. Newman, director for GRU’s International and Postdoctoral Services Office (IPSO). “Students from different backgrounds and cultures can learn from one another, bettering their educational experience and increasing their global awareness.”
While Gehlhaus interacts with American students in the classroom, he’s also met other international people, including students from Ecuador, Sweden and Thailand.
“I think it’s good [to have a diverse student population] because you can learn many things from other cultures,” Gehlhaus said. “They all have something they can do better – like teamwork. In Brazil, they do everything together – projects and everything. Here in the U.S., they like to do things by themselves. But I think they can learn from each other.”
Cultural, academic and athletic contributions aren’t all that international students bring to the U.S.
For the 2013-14 academic year, they added $26.8 billion to the U.S. economy, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Specifically, in Georgia’s 12th congressional district where Georgia Regents University sits, a total of 651 international students contributed more than $16 million to the local economy.
“When international students come to study in the U.S., they spend their money here, but those are just the hard numbers,” said Beverly Tarver, the principal designated school official for GRU’s F-1 student visa program, which brings international students to the U.S. to study full time. “There’s another value that we can’t calculate – the value of their cultural, academic and athletic contributions, and this is what we’re celebrating during International Education Week at GRU.”
International Education Week runs from Nov. 9 to 19 at GRU. The Study Abroad Office is hosting various events during the nearly two-week celebration, with the goal of preparing students for a global, more interconnected environment.