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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 1, 2006

'Coming To America' Essay Contest Winners Announced

The University of Iowa Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) honored four international students in the second annual "Coming to America" Essay Contest. The winners were announced at a reception held during International Education Week, Nov. 13-17.

The four students' essays were chosen from among 16 entrants for their superb quality and insight, covering topics such as acceptance, optimism, newness and self-confidence.

"The stories submitted in this contest show how factors both large and small have an impact on students who come from other countries to study at The University of Iowa," said Scott King, OISS director "Experiences that we take for granted in our own culture are often important - and sometimes even overwhelming - in the transition of those who have chosen to join our international student community."

The "Coming to America" Essay Contest winners are:

Norikiyo Ueno (photo, left), a graduate student in microbiology from Japan, was awarded first place with a prize of $300. His essay focused on his stereotypes of small town America having stereotypes of him. In actuality, he finds both to be untrue.

Yunyi (Susan) Qu (not pictured), a graduate student in actuarial science from China, was awarded second place with a prize of $200. Her essay discussed the similarities between living in San Francisco and Iowa City and the need to remain optimistic.

Suying Liu (photo, left), an undergraduate student in environmental sciences also from China, was awarded third place with a prize of $100. In his essay, he talked about how finding a new place helped him with feeling new himself.

Ralf Miche (photo, right), a graduate student in German from Germany, received an honorable mention for his essay on the self-confidence of Americans and how international students coming to America should strive to cultivate their own self-confidence.

The judges were Lois Gray (chair), director of external relations for UI International Programs; Michel Pontarelli, international student and scholar advisor in OISS; Sally Erickson, immigration clerk, Office of Admissions; and Lia Plakans, instructor, English as a Second Language at the UI.

All of the essays may be read by visiting the OISS Web site at: and clicking on International Student Essay Contest Coming to America.

King said, "I hope that many people will read the essays and discover both how remarkable our students are, as well as ways that the University and community can make an even better first impression for those who come from abroad."

International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the United States.

For more information on the essay contest, contact Scott King,, 319-335-0335 or visit

OISS is a part of International Programs, which enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all University constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Writer: Erin Vaughn