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From the Arab Spring to the World Expo, U.Va. Students Take Front Row Seat at World Stage

December 19, 2011 — It was a tumultuous, fascinating year, with the birth of the Arab Spring; the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant crisis in Japan; famine and unrest in the Horn of Africa; and growing concern that Iran harbors nuclear weapons ambitions.

Students at the University of Virginia were able to assess and discuss these evolving world events in real time, participating in teach-ins and hearing firsthand from ambassadors from around the world about the potential impact of these developments.

Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted Jan. 14 by a popular anti-corruption revolt, setting off a chain of events across the Middle East that has seen the demise of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the killing of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafiand rare Arab League oversight of Syria over a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

At U.Va., a hugely popular teach-in hosted by the Center for International Studies "Revolution in Tunisia, Egypt and Beyond: Democracy on the Horizon?" drew a standing-room only crowd.

The center hosted another teach-in following the March earthquake in Japan that featured a U.Va. professor who experienced the temblor firsthand.

The University's Ambassador Speakers' Forum featured old friends and new. Indonesia's ambassador to the United States, Dino Patti Djalal, engaged a large crowd with stories of his father, who was the first Indonesian student to attend U.Va.

The speakers' forum also featured ambassadors from Nepal, Japan, Morocco, Kenya, Turkey, Switzerland and Ghana.

The Center for International Studies celebrated its move to Hotel A on the West Range of the Lawn with a book launch series.

U.Va. was also named the university sponsor of the spring World Expo in South Korea. U.Va. will administer the Student Ambassadors program, selecting 40 undergraduate and graduate students from American colleges and universities to serve as the pavilion's hosts during the Expo, which is themed "The Living Ocean and Coast."

Candidates must be U.S. citizens and proficient in Korean. Applications from students across the U.S. are being accepted online through Feb. 10. Students will be notified of their selection by Feb. 20.

— By Jane Kelly

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