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Thank you so much President McRobbie and Dean Buxbaum.  It is wonderful to see you both so energetically carrying forward President Wells’ vision that the university would “bring the world to Indiana and Indiana to the world.” 

We are so grateful that students from all around the world, and EACH of you,  choose to study at IU and call Bloomington home -- whether for a year or four or ten, or a lifetime -- because your being here shapes this city into the great place it is.  If you’re new here, welcome to Bloomington!!   

We salute the Office of International Services for 75 years of having supported students from 140 different countries -- and counting.  Thank you to Chris Viers, associate vice president for international services, and John Wilkerson, assistant vice president for international services at IU, for all you do. 

IU takes great strides to assure each new student has a great experience.  And I’m proud to say that Bloomington residents have a long history of joining with the university to help. Only ten years after the founding of the Office of International Services, 65 years ago, folks in our city got together to form Bloomington Worldwide Friendship. Beyond OIS’s great help, Bloomington Worldwide Friendship supplements the international student’s experience with something intangible, that might even seem old-fashioned:  hospitality.  Since 1953, an act as simple as sharing a Thanksgiving meal has forged lifelong bonds of friendship that begin in Bloomington and extend throughout the world.  I can’t think offhand of a group that says “Bloomington” any more clearly than this one.  

Every fall, when international students match up with Bloomington families, the world gets a little smaller, and a little more compassionate.  And I’m proud to say that Bloomington Worldwide Friendship just one of several local organizations that share that mission, whether providing direct support to people away from their home, or celebrating cultural diversity.  And this month is no exception. For example, next Saturday September 15 try out the Festival de Otono downtown at the Showers Plaza; two weekends later, the Lotus Festival happens, a world-music destination event downtown, with four days of awesome live music from Southeast Asia to Scandinavia and everywhere in between. 

And even when we’re not having parties, I think you’ll find that Bloomington keeps open arms for our friends and residents from around the world. Plenty of city and nonprofit organizations work every day to help.

We are a better city because you are here. Every one of you, with your different stories, and hopes and dreams. We are all stronger for our diversity. And we hope and believe that wherever you end up, you and the world will be a bit better too, for having become a part of our community, living in and learning about the Heartland of America. Goodness knows, our world today needs MORE sharing, MORE understanding, MORE compassion, MORE connections. Welcome, and let’s all get to know each other well. Get out and explore. And stop by City Hall anytime! Best wishes on a great future in Bloomington and beyond.
 

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