International repartee, anyone? If you would you like to have lunch with the woman responsible for tax collection in Bangladesh or talk politics with a politician from Argentina or an anti-drug crusader from Myanmar, it’s possible a meeting can be arranged.

Earlier this month, 20 Humphrey Fellows from 18 nations arrived in Blacksburg. The Fellows are at Virginia Tech for intensive English-language training before entering other universities around the country for study in their chosen fields. This is the third year the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute has played host. The institute is part of Outreach and International Affairs.

“We are excited to have this fascinating group of top-level professionals from around the world studying here for the next few months,” said Don Back, director of the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute. “We hope as many in the community as possible can take advantage of the wealth of knowledge these individuals bring to the university. New countries represented this year include Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Mali, Senegal, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.”

Because practicing English is a major goal for the Humphrey Fellows, the group welcomes invitations to tour a company, speak to a group, or simply drop in on an office or departmental meeting.

This year’s Fellows include Rejina Riju of Bangladesh, who plans to study the U.S. tax system’s methods of combating corruption and tax evasion; Christian Asinelli of Argentina, focusing on public policy studies for ideas to take back to Buenos Aires; and Hla Long of Myanmar, who manages a substance-abuse program for his country’s anti-narcotics association.

The Humphrey Fellowship is an exchange activity of the Fulbright Program funded by Congress through the U.S. Department of State. The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Long Term English Training Program is a signature initiative of the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute. The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program was established in 1978 to honor the public service career of its namesake.

To arrange a meeting with the Fellows, contact Don Back at (540) 231-9814.

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