International Students Attend Fond du Lac

May 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 16-4: International Indigenous Education, Tribal College News

LEARNING TOGETHER. Students from Haiti (Jean Bernard Dusulme), Liberia (Patricia Flomo), and Japan (Kumiko Oda) meet with their mentor at the tribal college, Shirley Defoe. Photo by Tom Urbanski

Of all the 35 tribal colleges and universities, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC, Cloquet, MN) probably has the most active international exchange program. The international program encourages student enrollment in academic programs; cultural exchanges for faculty, staff, and students; and special events related to international activities.

Started in August 2002, the program welcomed its first international student from Switzerland. Since then, the college has enrolled students from Canada, Russia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Liberia, Japan, Haiti, Columbia, England, France, and Kenya. Students from the Philippines are planning to attend in fall 2005, according to Shirley Defoe (Ojibwe), international programs director at the college.

In June 2005, the college will host Patrick Anderson and his wife from Batchelor Institute of Darwin, Australia, for 3 weeks as a cultural exchange between the Aborigine culture of Australia and the Chippewa culture of Minnesota.

In September 2005, the college will host a Maori group from New Zealand. These students, aged 13-19 years, include singers, dancers, weavers, and carvers.

In August 2006, Defoe will be coordinating the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) meetings. More than 250 participants from Australia, New Zealand, and the North American tribal colleges are expected in Minnesota. Defoe is a member of the WINHEC Board of Directors.

FDLTCC has ongoing memorandum of understanding agreements with three of the wänanga (tribal colleges) in New Zealand for faculty and student cultural exchanges. The college also has an agreement with Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and is working to finalize a memorandum of understanding with the Batchelor Institute for faculty and student cultural exchanges.

In November 2004, Defoe received a Women in Leadership Award from television station KBJR, the Duluth-Superior affiliate of the NBC network. The award recognized her lifetime achievements, many of them in the international arena.

She was president of the Cloquet Sister City project with Russia and an international goodwill ambassador for the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe to Monaco and the Vatican. Defoe has worked at FDLTCC for 17 years.

For more information about the international program at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, contact Shirley Defoe at (218) 879-0829 or email

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