While it is a common thing to see a West Virginia University flag hanging near a home of a fan, alumnus or parent in the United States, such displays can also be seen at Atsuhiko Nishis home in Japan.

SinceWVU established a Mountaineer Ambassador program in Japan in 2007, Nishi said the bond between the University and country has grown even stronger.

A 1987 graduate of WVU and Mountaineer ambassador for the Japan alumni program, Nishi and many of his fellow alumni meet several times a year for dinner, drinks and friendly conversation.

In addition to Japanwhere there are over 1,000 WVU alumni WVU has recently established international alumni programs in Malaysia and the Gulf states. In the future University officials hope to establish programs in Thailand, Korea and Africa, among others.

A lot of the alumni in these areas of the world have already been meeting, but Michael Wilhelm, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars , and I want to formalize something that is already there,said Tom Sloane, senior associate dean of students.We want them to have access to the WVU Alumni Association and Web site and be officially connected to the University.

The ambassador programs not only provide links for the graduates to University events and resources, but Sloane said they have become a powerful networking tool.

When students from these countries return to their homes after completing their studies, they have a group of people to help them find jobs and get reacquainted with their culture,Sloane said.We have many very successful and loyal alumni from these places.

The alumni of these international programs encompass a wide range of professions. They are business owners, journalists, engineers, teachers, doctors and oil executives, to name a few.

Interaction with WVU alumni in her home country of Malaysia, caused Manja Lara Zaaba to enroll in WVU to earn her mastersdegree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

If it wasnt for the alumni program in Malaysia, I wouldnt have thought of coming back here to complete my mastersdegree,Zaaba said.My experience at WVU so far has been great. I am learning from the best.

The first-year mastersstudent, who obtained her undergraduate degree at MARA University of Technology in Malaysia, was born and raised as a Mountaineer. Both her parents attended the University, and they lived in Morgantown for several years when Zaaba was a young girl.

If Zaaba decides to return to Malaysia once she has completed her studies, she is confident that having the ambassador program in her country will help her be successful.

One of the richest men in Malaysia is a WVU graduate, and he is not the only successful WVU alumnus in Malaysia. I am very confident that by having WVU s name attached to my diploma it will help me to get a good job,she said.

Currently students from over 100 countries attend WVU . As that number continues to increase, University officials hope to make connections with every student once they return to their home countries.

It is tremendously important to have global connections at WVU . This is a global economy,Sloane said.