Nineteen professors and students from 12 countries are nearing the end of a three-month stay at Iowa State University. Their visit was made possible by a new program designed to help the world's brightest young professionals gain international experience and build leadership skills.

The visit is the first in the International Higher Education Loan Program (I-HELP), sponsored by the Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture. Private donations made it possible for Iowa State to launch I-HELP last spring with a $100,000 commitment.

The I-HELP fellows come from India, Yemen, China, South Africa, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Wales, Samoa, Kenya, Malaysia, Botswana and Albania. Each has been teamed with an ISU faculty member, working on projects of mutual interest in agriculture, food or the environment.

Ravinder Kaur of India has been working with Ramesh Kanwar, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering. Kaur specializes in soil physics and soil and water conservation. Kanwar is director of the Iowa State Water Resources Research Institute.

Amin Al-Hakimi has been teamed with Arnel Hallauer in Iowa State's agronomy department. Al-Hakimi is executive director of the Yemeni Genetic Resources Center at Sana'a University in Yemen. Hallauer is an internationally known corn geneticist.

Ainura Orozaliyeva of Kyrgyzstan is a lecturer at the Kyrgyz Agrarian Academy, specializing in meat merchandising and product quality. While at Iowa State, she has been teamed with Joseph Sebranek, an expert in meat processing and quality.

Michael Christie of Wales is a lecturer in environmental economics at the University of Wales. His interest is methods to determine environmental values. His ISU mentor, Catherine Kling, is director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development's environmental policy division.

Thembisile Ndimande teaches chemistry and chemical pathology at the Mangosuthu Technikon in South Africa. Food safety education in rural South African communities is not very successful, and she hopes to use what she learns at Iowa State to improve the situation. She is working with Suzanne Hendrich in the ISU food science and human nutrition department.

Loans of up to $5,000 were made to each participant to cover transportation and living costs. One program objective is to help the participants prepare themselves to better serve the societies they represent. I-HELP fellows who return to their home countries to improve higher education, food security or environmental sustainability will have up to half of their loan forgiven.

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