Kramer Scholars annual luncheon a high point of the year
UCLA International Institute, May 16, 2013 — Created in 2011, the Terry and Suzan Kramer Global Leaders Scholars Program awards scholarships to UCLA students to study abroad for the first time. Its goal is to create future leaders with a deep understanding of our increasingly interconnected global world.
A UCLA graduate (economics major) who completed an MBA at Harvard University, Terry Kramer traveled widely as a telecommunications executive only after receiving his graduate degree. Suzan Kramer, on the other hand, was born in Tokyo, raised in Turkey, and has worked around the world. Both seek to open doors for students to gain the experience and cultural understanding needed in a world where, as Terry noted, “Context matters.”
For the last three years, the UCLA International Institute has hosted an annual luncheon for the Kramers and the UCLA students who have been awarded their scholarship in that calendar year. The group includes alumni and students who have already completed study abroad programs and students who will depart for such programs this summer and fall, allowing for a spirited exchange of ideas, encouragement, and advice.
The luncheon has become the high point of the year for the Kramers, Interim Vice Provost for International Studies Cindy Fan, and the staff of the UCLA International Education Office, reminding them of their first encounters with other cultures and consequent commitment to becoming, in Fan’s words, “informed global citizens.” Today, they are all working to help another generation achieve that same goal.
Although Suzan Kramer was unable to attend the luncheon this year, Terry arrived with enough enthusiasm and encouragement to fill the room. He began and ended the luncheon by congratulating the students who had been awarded a scholarship and urging them to enjoy their time abroad. And he thanked the UCLA faculty and staff for bringing the program to life.
“The world looks different in different places,” observed Kramer. Appreciating and understanding those differences, he continued, are what helps you lead in a global environment. “To me, that has been the biggest source of satisfaction, challenge, and opportunity in my own career.”
“Understand the environment that you’re in: understand it economically, politically, understand its history, its culture and then think about where global opportunities exist,” Kramer urged the students.
“Knowing when you export and when you import is such an interesting issue to me. The number of leaders who fail in that area is amazing. [There are] a lot of leaders who say, I’ve done this in America, I’ve done this in China, in India, now I’m going to show the rest of the world — it doesn’t work.”
Among the students soon to depart, Han Chung (English major) is headed to the United Kingdom to study Shakespeare in London and Stratford. Geneva (Gigi) Davidson (physical sciences) is off to a travel study program in Germany and Austria to perfect her German. Michael-Vincent de la Cruz (Asian studies) is preparing to study in Japan. Zoe Hartman (anthropology) will go to Ghana for a semester this fall. Theodore Hsieh (political science) will participate in a summer travel study program in Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and France.
Logan Linnane (geography/environmental studies major) is headed to Thailand for an internship and welcomes his first opportunity to experience “culture shock.” Miranda Lutz (political science major) will study Italian in a small village in Italy, where she hopes to become fluent. Coleton Schmitto (communication studies) is preparing to study in Denmark for the fall semester. And Wayne Wong (microbiology) will go to Paris to learn more about France’s colonial history and the role it plays in the country’s current foreign policy.
Among the students who had returned from abroad, alumna Briana Fischer spent a year in three different programs in Israel, Italy, and New Zealand, respectively. Fourth-year student Victor Gomez-Mustafa (architecture) had spent a summer in Switzerland in an urban planning program, in the process learning how international aid is implemented.
Alumna Natalie Hatour noted that her travel study experience in Shanghai caused her to completely change her career and academic goals. She now works for the U.S. State Department and is studying her third language. An interest in World War II history led fourth-year student Katherine Chua (psychobiology) to participate in a travel study program in Germany, where she now hopes to work for a year.
All of the students thanked Mr. Kramer effusively for the best experience of their lives and advised their peers to take advantage of every opportunity to meet people and attend cultural events during their studies in foreign countries.
Professor of Anthropology and Director of the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies Yunxiang Yan has been leading the UCLA travel study program in Shanghai for 9 years and finds the experience extremely rewarding.
“I realize increasingly,” said Yan, “that travel study programs are not something ‘extra’ — they have become essential. They should be the core of our education, given all the changes in the developing world.” Not all students have the chance to study abroad, even though they should, he continued, making the Kramer Scholar Program all the more important.
Cindy Fan, who leads the summer travel study program in China, remarked that the mandatory geography field trips she took to the Philippines, Japan, and Malaysia were the things she remembered most vividly from her undergraduate studies in Hong Kong. Concurring with Professor Yan’s vision, Fan said, “My dream is to have every UCLA student have a foreign experience before they graduate.”
Associate Professor of Germanic Languages Christopher Stevens, who leads the travel study program in Germany and Austria, said it was very gratifying to be giving back to the younger generation. He noted that the three study abroad programs in which he participated had been the favorite and most rewarding parts of his education.
Calling the scholarship awardees the “Kramer of the crop” of an already elite cream-of-the-crop UCLA student body, Associate Director for Study Abroad Sergio Broderick-Villa said he saw first-hand the impact that studying abroad has on students. “Cumulatively,” he added, “I’ve seen the momentum that a scholarship such as the Kramer Scholar Program creates, encouraging more students to think about the opportunity of studying abroad and, at least at the start, not let finances get in the way.”
As the luncheon discussion progressed, plans were hatched for future Kramer Scholar alumni meetings and a Facebook page where current scholarship students can share their experiences with one another across the globe. Buckle up students; you never know where your travels will end up taking you!
* Top row, left to right: Terry Kramer; Sergio Broderick-Villa, Associate Director of Study Abroad; Associate Professor of Germanic Languages Christopher Stevens; Professor of Anthropology Yunxiang Yan; Michael-Vincent de la Cruz; Logan Linnane; Victor Gomez-Mustafa; Wayne Wong; Natalie Hatour; Geneva (Gigi) Davidson; Coleton Schmitto; Lainey Freels, Student Services Coordinator, International Education Office. Bottom row, left to right: Cindy Fan, Interim Vice Provost-International Studies; Han Chung; Briana Fischer; Miranda Lutz; Katherine Chua; and Hadyn Dick, Executive Director, International Education Office.