Pittsburg State University President Don Wilson said Tuesday that his reaction to a mugging in Thailand illustrates how people should embrace international education.
Wilson, speaking to educators involved in foreign student affairs at the Lawrence Holidome, said he escaped a dozen Thai thugs by diving into a polluted canal.
"Those who believe in international education . . . have to realize we have to become more involved than in a tertiary way. We must immerse ourselves," he said.
About 300 educators from nine states are attending a regional conference in Lawrence this week of the National Association for Foreign Student Affairs.
NAFSA is the largest membership association of international educators and administrators. It works to improve effectiveness of international educational exchange.
WILSON was born in India and graduated from secondary school in Singapore. He has traveled widely, lived in five countries and speaks or reads seven languages.
He said not enough students, educators and government leaders understand the importance of looking beyond this country's borders for educational opportunities.
"The record of higher education when it comes to international education is not particularly strong," he told the delegates. "We have a long way to go."
Wilson said internationalization of education in the 1990s would help solve many of the world's troubles, because education is tied to politics, economics and social issues.
"EDUCATION in my mind is the answer to the world's problems. If it doesn't happen in education, I doubt it's going to happen anywhere else," the president said.
"Eventually, the battle we're engaged in will be won. That final result is we will end up with one world, one planet, a world in which there is opportunity for all.
"Our lives and the lives of future generations depend upon our commitment to this ideal of international exchange, international education, internationalization of the curriculum."
Wilson said reforms in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe convinced some of his friends that the world was on the way to peace and prosperity. Then the Persian Gulf crisis erupted.
"The thing it should reinforce in our minds is not that the situation is hopeless, but that we can never let down our . . . resolve to develop a world in which there is understanding," he said.