MAILED: June 25, 1997|
EAU CLAIRE -- The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has accepted 10 Eastern European students for the fall semester who have been awarded grants through the Open Society Institute, making the students the largest group from the OSI in the United States.
"The purpose (of the OSI grants) is to bring the best students to the United States to further their ideas about democracy," said Hilda Moleski, foreign student adviser at UW-Eau Claire.
OSI began a few years ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union. Last year was the first year UW-Eau Claire was involved, accepting nine students.
A total of 70 Eastern European students from the countries of Poland, Albania, Georgia, Latvia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia and Lithuania will attend universities in the United States, Moleski said.
The application process is difficult for most students. Students must submit four essays, a transcript, and take the Test of English as a Foreign Language exams, she said. The application is written in English and some students must travel 12 hours to take the TOEFL exam, she said.
If they make it to the final stages, students are interviewed in their home countries. Their applications are sent to the Grant Selection Committee, which Moleski was a member of this year in New York, at the main office of the Soros Foundation. The Soros Foundation is named after the philanthorpist George Soros, who funds OSI.
The grants will financially support the students during their year at UW-Eau Claire. The university supports a portion of the tuition, Moleski said.
For many students, OSI is their only hope to study in the United States, she said. The average income for most families is only $100 a month in many countries in Eastern Europe. "The program is extremely competitive," she said.
A native of Latvia, Aina Galejs, a medical doctor in Minneapolis, is helping to support two Latvian students who will attend UW-Eau Claire in the fall.
About 20 students apply from each of the 11 countries involved but only three students per country are accepted to study in the United States. Each university is given double the number of students so it can determine who to accept based on the university's standards, Moleski said.
The Center of International Education also accepts four to six students through the American Council of Teachers of Russia grant program.
The Russian and Eurasian Awards Program has funded two students for a two-year grant at UW-Eau Claire but funding was recently cut. The students who are now at the university will be the last to receive that grant.
The OSI grant is the largest, and the best students are selected, Moleski said. "They are such impressive students," she said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 2, 1997