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International recruiting

Sam Dunlop (International Education) and Norberto, a Guatemalan student, at a college fair in Guatemala City.

November 2009

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Adventures in international recruitment

A political coup d’état in Honduras. Typhoons. Street blockades in Thailand. Joe Tullbane and Sam Dunlop ’05 have had their fair share of exciting and perilous experiences while recruiting students from around the world.

Their work in the college’s Center for International Education has them undertaking worldwide recruitment tours and less formal trips where they meet prospective international students.

In September, Dunlop joined representatives from 31 different colleges and universities throughout the U.S. on a recruitment tour of South and Central America. The tour, sponsored by the Council of International Schools, began in São Paulo, Brazil, and was slated to visit other Brazilian cities as well as cities in Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama.

The recruitment trip ended ahead of schedule in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, when political unrest spurred by the unexpected return of former Honduran president Jose Manuel Zelaya put the city under curfew. Dunlop and the others on the tour were ushered out of the airport and sequestered in their hotel for a few days while the situation was resolved.

For Dunlop, who has a strong interest in politics, the chance to be in the middle of history was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “Such is the nature of international travel,” says Dunlop. “The political unrest in Tegucigalpa really put a dent in our travel itinerary. We are all thankful that we were successfully able to get out of the country.”

That experience and others have opened Dunlop’s eyes. “I learned quickly that when you travel internationally, almost nothing is certain. Planes leave late, hotels may not have your reservation, school counselors may have more or less students than you expected.” Looking back on the South and Central American tour, Dunlop says it was his longest and most rewarding recruitment trip so far, despite all its ups and downs. “St. Norbert will see a great spectrum of talented students apply from South and Central America this year,” says Dunlop.

Tullbane, in his more than 10 years in international recruitment for the college, remembers riding out at least two typhoons, but it is a more personally perceived threat that has stuck most vividly in his mind. It happened while he was leaving his hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, for a recruiting event at Rumruadee High School, located in the same city.

“Having never been in the city before I didn’t realize how spread out it was,” says Tullbane. “I jumped into a cab in front of my hotel and took off to the high school. The cab driver spoke no English, I spoke no Thai.”

Tullbane and the cab driver drove for about an hour and a half out of the city center while Tullbane grew more and more nervous. “Finally he just stopped the car at the side of a small, almost rural road and threw his hands up in the air signaling that he was completely lost and demanding with hand gestures that I leave the cab.

“We were almost an hour away form our goal … truly lost.”

As International Education staff prepare to start exploring opportunities in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, more unpredictable experiences are sure to come their way.

But St. Norbert is seeing results from the international recruitment efforts of Dunlop, Tullbane and others. There are 101 international degree-seeking students on campus this year and they hail from 30 different countries.

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