What’s Working: Millsaps students abroad

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — Despite an undergraduate enrollment of less than 1000, Millsaps is a name that is recognized all over the world. About half its student body spends time studying abroad, and students from around the globe are coming to Jackson to learn.

Located in the heart of the Capital City, some of the finest minds in Mississippi are pursuing degrees from Millsaps. Some are local; some are from halfway around the world.

Vajresh Balaji is a sophomore who is double majoring in Mathematics and Economics.

“I’m from India,” he said. “We have another student who is from Ethiopia, Gambia, students from China a student from Singapore.”

Six of those international students live with six American students on the same floor of Sanderson Hall.

Adria Walker is a former Murrah Mustang, now a junior at Millsaps.

“I’ve always considered myself someone who is open, but I’ve been forced to become even more open, which is a really interesting experience for me,” she said.

Thanks to a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, this is the first class to take part in the International Perspectives Program. George Bey is a Professor of Anthropology at Millsaps. He is also the Associate Dean of International Education.

“Every year we are going to address a different problem or different issue around the world: education, water, climate change, women’s rights, things like that,” he said.

This year the issue is climate change and how it’s affecting different parts of our planet.

“So something that like, I, in Mississippi think, is not what someone else in Ethiopia thinks about the exact same thing, so it’s a great experience to see how one issue can be interpreted so widely.”

“About 60% of the agriculture in India is reliant on the monsoons, and climate change delays the monsoons, and we’ve had increased drought, so that really affects agriculture,” Vajresh Balaji added.

The next step for the students is to organize a conference this Spring where speakers and students will discuss climate change near and far.

“What the international perspective program does is bring all of them together and makes them explore various perspectives throughout their own work and also look at other people’s perspectives.”

The program will continue each year, with new students. This year Millsaps will also be taking students to London, Dublin, Bali, and Taiwan.