TITLE: International Exposure in my Hometown AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 15, 2005 7:58 PM DESC: ----- BODY: This evening I had the pleasure of attending a reception here as a part of Senator Charles Grassley's Ambassadors Tour. Every two years, Senator Grassley brings a delegation of ambassadors and embassy representatives for a tour of the state of Iowa. This year's delegation consisted of representatives of over 70 countries. They will spend five days in Iowa, visiting various Iowa businesses, in hopes of creating opportunities for international collaboration -- especially business connections. Senator Grassley is a UNI alumnus and brings his tour to our campus every other time or so. I had the opportunity of chatting with representatives from four continents, though I spent most of my time with delegates from the Republic of Congo, Russia, and Taiwan. Having "computer science" on my name tag seemed to attract folks' attention. Some countries seek to build up their computing infrastructure in order to participate more fully in the information economy. Others seek to develop connections to utilize existing computing industries. Still others found computers to be a familiar way to start a conversation, even if they weren't so interested in building up new computing-related connections with UNI. My conversations this evening remind of just how much we all have in common. When Americans think of the Congo, most probably don't think about colleges and businesses trying to do the same things they do here at home. The news we hear tends to be of extraordinary events, especially natural and man-made disasters. I had a chance to give my condolences to the senior diplomat from Cyprus for the recent plane crash in Greece that killed over one hundred of his compatriots. Computing notwithstanding, we all live in very much the same world. BTW, Senator Grassley is a good guy, and he has been good to his alma mater while serving in the legislature. Obligatory running trivia: Senator Grassley is an active runner, even in his 70s. He remains the only U.S. legislator whom I know I've defeated in a race, a 5K in a nearby rural town several years ago. I usually, um, neglect to tell anyone that he was just about to turn 70 at the time! (If I've defeated anyone else with a national profile, it was surely in the 2003 Chicago Marathon. That was a big crowd of runners! Then again, I was behind many of them.) -----