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Visitors Bureau Hosted 575 People from 91 Nations in 2010Members of the Syrian nonprofit BASMA, which addresses the needs of children with cancer and their families, on Oct. 1 met with UCLA medical researchers and toured facilities, including a playroom in a pediatric ward. (Photo by Gohar Grigorian)

Visitors Bureau Hosted 575 People from 91 Nations in 2010

Housed in the UCLA International Institute since 2002, the International Visitors Bureau matches foreign visitors with professionals and experts in all fields. This year the bureau, managed by Program Officer Gohar Grigorian with the aid of one part-time student worker and a network of contacts, observed a sharp rise in the number of visitors from China.

By Kevin Matthews
Senior Writer

Grigorian with UCLA History Professor Ricard Hovannisian on Oct. 12, before welcoming to campus the U.S. ambassador to Armenia

Grigorian with UCLA History Professor Richard Hovannisian on Oct. 12, before welcoming to campus the U.S. ambassador to Armenia

Traveling alone or with issue-oriented national and multinational delegations, 575 people from 91 nations in every world region came to campus this year on official visits facilitated by the UCLA International Visitors Bureau, up more than 10 percent from 520 visitors last year.

In most cases the campus visitors were greeted on arrival by Program Officer Gohar Grigorian, who has worked for the UCLA bureau since 1994 and managed it from within the International Institute since 2002.

"We have some days with three to four visits," said Grigorian with a smile, "and me literally running to get from one group to the next group."

With the help of one part-time student assistant and a network of contacts on campus, Grigorian attends to the details of visits, from the lunch menu to tours of facilities and meetings with faculty experts. As many as 200 visitors arrived this year with support from the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program.

One of six Indian journalists visiting UCLA on Dec. 8, Ritul Joshi (left), a primetime news anchor at the Hindi-language channel Aaj Tak, directs a question to Nushin Arbabzadah of the UCLA Center for India and South Asia.

One of six Indian journalists visiting UCLA on Dec. 8, Ritul Joshi (left), a primetime news anchor at the Hindi-language channel Aaj Tak, directs a question to Nushin Arbabzadah of the UCLA Center for India and South Asia.

As in recent years, the largest share of campus visitors came from the People's Republic of China. In 2010, the number of Chinese visitors rose sharply to 183, up from 133 last year and 59 five years ago. There were also large numbers of arrivals this year from South Korea (34), Russia (22), Georgia (20), Mexico (17) and South Africa (15).

Grigorian attributes the high numbers of visits from China to a variety of factors, including foreign student recruitment and personal outreach by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and other campus officials involved in expanding scholarly collaboration and exchange with that country's universities. Most of the Chinese visitors – including 19 high-ranking university officials who came for training in November – traveled with sponsorship from their own government or other organizations, rather than through the State Department.

In June, Vice Rector Yves Flueckiger of the University of Geneva (center) met with Associate Professor Leobardo Estrada and a series of UCLA officials on educational collaboration and exchange.

In June, Vice Rector Yves Flueckiger of the University of Geneva (center) met with Associate Professor Leobardo Estrada and a series of UCLA officials on educational collaboration and exchange.

Visitors from all of the countries represented this year – scroll down for the country-by-country tally – exchanged views and expertise with UCLA faculty members on issues such as HIV/AIDS education and prevention, environmental sustainability, border issues, minority rights, preservation of culture, and defense against cyber attacks. Some campus meetings facilitated by the bureau focus on aspects of university administration, and others simply bring together people working in similar scientific and artistic endeavors.

"It's important to bring people in every industry so that they can see what their colleagues are doing here," Grigorian said. She expressed gratitude for the responsiveness of faculty members to requests for meetings with international colleagues.

Below, sorted by country, are the numbers of visitors the bureau received this year. Members of multinational delegations have also been sorted by country.

 

Programs

Visitors

 

Programs

Visitors

Afghanistan 1 1 Korea (South) 6 34
Albania 1 1 Lebanon 1 1
Andorra 1 2 Libya 2 2
Argentina 1 1 Macedonia 1 1
Australia 1 1 Madagascar 1 1
Bahrain 1 1 Malawi 1 1
Bangladesh 1 1 Malaysia 3 3
Belgium 1 1 Mexico 3 17
Benin 1 1 Mongolia 1 1
Bolivia 1 1 Morocco 2 2
Botswana 2 2 Netherlands 2 14
Brazil 3 12 Nigeria 2 2
Burkina Faso 1 1 Oman 2 2
Burundi 1 1 Palestinian Territories 2 2
Cameroon 1 2 Pakistan 2 7
Canada 1 3 Philippines 1 1
Chad 1 1 Poland 1 1
Chile 1 6 Qatar 2 8
China 22 183 Romania 1 1
Colombia 1 1 Russia 5 22
Cote d'Ivoire 1 1 Saudi Arabia 3 10
Croatia 1 7 Serbia 1 1
Cyprus 1 1 Sierra Leone 1 1
Czech Republic 1 4 Slovenia 1 9
Djibouti 1 1 South Africa 5 15
Dominican Republic 3 8 Spain 3 6
Egypt 1 1 Sri Lanka 1 1
Eritrea 1 1 St. Lucia 1 1
Ethiopia 2 5 Sudan 2 5
France 2 3 Switzerland 1 3
Gambia 1 1 Syria 2 12
Georgia 3 20 Taiwan 1 6
Germany 2 3 Thailand 3 13
Greece 2 2 Turkey 1 1
Guatemala 1 1 Trinidad & Tobago 1 1
Guinea 1 1 Turkmenistan 1 4
Haiti 3 7 Uganda 2 6
India 3 10 Ukraine 1 1
Indonesia 3 3 United Arab Emirates 1 1
Iraq 2 3 United Kingdom 1 3
Israel 2 7 United States 3 3
Italy 2 3 Uruguay 1 3
Jamaica 1 1 Yemen 2 11
Japan 4 10 Zambia 1 3
Jordan 2 2 Zimbabwe 2 2
Kenya 1 1      

 

UCLA International Institute