Over 500 international high school and college students descended Tuesday on the State Capitol for International Student Awareness Day.
State Senator Bernest Cain (D-Oklahoma City), who serves as the co-chair of the Special Joint Committee on International Development, said 57 countries were represented at the event.
The event was sponsored by the Special Joint Committee on International Development, the Governor’s International Team and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. Rep. Shane Jett, (R-Tecumseh) was the event’s House co-chair.
The students were welcomed in a ceremony inside the House chambers with Cain telling them that Oklahoma is the 20th most popular state for international students to visit and study.
“We have young people here from all over the world,” Cain said. “We welcome you to the state capitol. “We are really celebrating having you here today. “We are honored that you chose to come to Oklahoma.”
Students got the opportunity to interact with Senators and Representatives as well the opportunity to visit the 33 exhibition booths that were set up on the Capitol’s fourth floor rotunda.
Musical entertainment was also provided and the students attended a luncheon on the Capitol’s fifth floor with several Oklahoma City restaurants providing international cuisine.
Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, (D-Stillwater) told the students that their presence was a reminder for Oklahoma’s legislative leaders to look beyond what is happening in their own back yard.
“You are giving us perspective,” Morgan said. “You are here to help us remember that we are part of a global community and that we are part of the world economy.”
Morgan said he has gotten a greater appreciation of international culture living in Stillwater where Oklahoma State University is located.
He said many international students and their families move to Stillwater to study at OSU.
“Having lived there for many years, I have seen and understood the value of the international community within our community and what it brings to our culture,” Morgan said. “Your presence here reminds us that we need to look beyond our own borders.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett thanked Cain for his dedication to state service as well as his commitment to creating study abroad opportunities for both Oklahoma and international students.
Garrett told the students that she hopes they enjoy their time in Oklahoma and will remember the state in their future educational and economic endeavors.
“The welcome mat is always out for you in Oklahoma,” Garrett said.