UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Law LL.M. Program has welcomed the most diverse class in its history to campus this semester, with students coming to University Park from 30 different nations all across the globe.
“This is the most diverse class of any law school this size,” said Stephen Barnes, assistant dean of graduate and international programs. “When the students arrive, they are amazed to find their peers from all over the world in one place here in University Park.”
This year’s class includes students from countries not previously represented, including Armenia, Bhutan, Bosnia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kosovo, Malawi, Nepal, Russia, Serbia, and Sri Lanka, creating new and exciting opportunities for cross-cultural exchange both in and out of the classroom.
“One reason we’re so proud of this class, and why we work so hard to bring these countries together, is the kinds of cultural experiences this opens up for our students,” said Director of Graduate and International Programs Jing Hu. “We want to equip our students not just with knowledge of the law, but knowledge of other people and other cultures around the world.”
Zema Tesema, an assistant professor of law in his home country of Ethiopia now in the United States for the first time, said the semester’s barely begun and he’s already met new friends from all around the world and started expanding his horizons.
“It is truly amazing to be here. I never imagined I would be able to have a conversation with someone from Mongolia,” Tesema said. “We were able to discuss our cultures and countries together. That’s why I’m here—to learn not only the law, but how people who are different from me live.”
Ayene Sisay, a fellow Ethiopian professor who first met students and professors from Penn State Law at a Vis Moot competition in Vienna he attended with Tesema, said they’ve enjoyed a whirlwind of incredible experiences since arriving earlier this month: meeting their new classmates and colleagues from around the world, visiting Washington, D.C., with the rest of the LL.M. class to learn more about American history and its legal system, and beginning classes with Penn State Law’s faculty.
“Everyone has been so interested to get know each other and learning more about where everyone comes from,” Sisay said. “I’ve already learned so much!”