A welcome reception hosted by 20 top students from five West African countries took center stage as participants in a cross-cultural learning program offered a glimpse into their worlds.
Wearing traditional clothing for their respective countries, the students offered information about their home countries, languages, food and culture.
One student, Sidibe Aboubacar is visiting the United States from Senegal. He says his first days in the Chico region have been positive.
For the next three weeks students from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Mali and Senegal will call Chico home.
The students consider themselves future leaders, based on projects all are focused on designed to enhance business, technology and social challenges in their home countries. They are all part of the Summer University Scholars Institute, known as S.U.S.I.
It is a U.S. State Department program focused on cultural exchange and social entrepreneurship.
Program director Professor Curtis L. DeBerg, says the program is just one way to enhance global partnerships for education and business. He says most of the S.U.S.I. participants are what he calls Social Entrepreneurs; that is, individuals who seek to solve a social issue, but doing so with a profitable business model.
DeBerg says if the governments can't provide goods or services in an efficient way and if the private sector is only concerned with profits, then there needs to be some entity; some middle entity, and that is called the social sector.
It is a highly competitive process to join this group of S.U.S.I. student leaders. But once selected, students from business, engineering, science and social entrepreneurship disciplines travel here to the U.S. in order to collaborate with their U.S. counterparts.
When asked what his first impressions of the United States are, student leader Aboubacar said he sees that everybody is free, everybody has liberty of expression and says this liberty of doing what they want and diversity is positive. He says those are the aspects which have impressed him about the country.