Consulate General of Canada consul to speak on campus

Penn State New Kensington continues its countries of focus program with a presentation by the consul of the Consulate General of Canada in New York at noon on Monday, April 7, in the Art Gallery. Vikas Sharma, consul of the Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Service section of the Consulate General office, will discuss ”The U.S. – Canada Economic and Energy Relationship.”

Sharma will explore Pennsylvania’s economic relationship with Canada. With a growing energy relationship and the resurgence of manufacturing in North America, economic opportunities exist, especially for the Pittsburgh region. Refreshments and a reception at 11:45 a.m. precede the talk. An audience question-and-answer session follows the consul’s presentation. The event is free to the public.

The United States and Canada share the longest border in the world and have a long tradition of cooperation. The countries are each other's most important trading partners, with two-way goods trade totaling $632 billion annually -- a trading relationship that dwarfs that of any other bilateral trading relationship in the world.

The relationship plays out on federal, state and local levels. With Canada as its largest trading partner, Pennsylvania exports more to its northern neighbor than the next four countries combined. Locally, the relationship is characterized by highly integrated manufacturing sectors and supply chains. Countless firms have developed internal production value chains that operate back and forth across the border. This relationship drives innovation and creates a more competitive North American trading bloc.

Penn State New Kensington has its own relationship with the True North, as the denizens of 10 provinces and three territories call their country. In keeping with Chancellor Kevin Snider's international recruiting initiatives, the campus admissions office began making forays into Canada in 2012. Danielle DeStefano, assistant director of enrollment management, has visited 25 high schools in the Ontario province.

As consul, Sharma explains and promotes Canadian policies and issues to local constituents, manages media relations, and interprets local U.S. political and economic events and trends of interest to Canada. The Consulate General office in New York City covers the states of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Sharma’s visit to the New Kensington campus coincides with Canada’s new initiative, "Pop-up Canada," that will make a stop in Pittsburgh April 7 to11. "Pop-up Canada" marks the first time the Canadian consulate will conduct business in another city. Representatives from the Consulate General's office said the focus of the visit is threefold -- shared trade; investment; and energy and security issues between Canada and Western Pennsylvania. Activities will be held throughout the week.

Campus students are scheduled to visit the GE Energy Tech exhibit, which has sessions all week. The exhibit extolls the technology used in the energy sector.

The consul’s presentation is a part of the campus' "Country of Focus: Canada," a year-long celebration of international cultures. For the past seven years, the campus has embarked on the promotion of greater awareness and understanding of world issues, international trends and global policy debates. Each year, the campus adopts a country or region of the world to inspire teaching and scholarship. Students, faculty and staff will explore and reflect on various aspects of Canadian history, culture and economic, social and political reality.

Since 2004, more than 160 campus students have traveled to Spain, France, Italy, China, Greece, Peru, Galapagos Islands and Ireland. In conjunction with the trips, students are required to take a related course that enriches their understanding of the destination and its culture. Upon return, participants present their experiences through narratives and slideshows to the entire campus community. These presentations both enable others to share in the immediate travel experience and help to generate excitement in students, as well as faculty and staff, to become involved in future trips.

For more on the country of focus program, visit

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Last Updated January 09, 2015