Hemingway, the keynote speaker at UCF’s fifth-annual International Breakfast, was surprised that the author was so interested in her life and in helping her make the most of her time in Spain. It didn’t matter, she said, that she had done a poor job of researching his life and coming up with questions for him.

“For him, every moment in life was a very important moment, and every person he met was an interesting person,” Hemingway said. “It was a real eye opener for me, and a lesson for life.”

International Education Week features programs about learning abroad, meeting with others who have studied overseas, sampling international foods and other topics. Events include a Study Abroad Fair and Russian Culture Night on Wednesday, a Peace Corps information session and an International Fair on Thursday, and two sessions on education in South Africa on Friday. The breakfast was presented by the International Services Center and Global Perspectives Office.

At Tuesday’s breakfast, Valerie Hemingway shared her experiences in between musical and dance performances by international students and the presentation of awards honoring students and faculty members for their contributions to international education.

Hemingway grew up in Ireland, and she said she was focused only on Irish matters when she was living in Spain  to cover the Irish embassy and social scene for a newspaper in her home country. She said Ernest Hemingway told her to forget about Ireland and learn about Spain’s history, customs and current affairs, so she took his advice and began to experience more of Spain.

Hemingway later traveled with Hemingway and his wife, Mary, throughout Spain, France and Cuba for two years. She described him as a man of “extremes” who worked hard and played hard and who always sought the opinions of those around him.

After his death, she organized all of his papers for the Kennedy Library. She married – and later divorced – his youngest son, Gregory. She also wrote a memoir, “Running With the Bulls: My Years With the Hemingways.”

Also speaking at the breakfast, Provost and Executive Vice President Tony Waldrop noted that “at UCF, we feel a deep responsibility to educate our students to become global citizens, and we are proud of the outstanding strides in internationalization that the UCF campus and the community have made.”

Among the statistics that Waldrop cited:

UCF has 3,705 international students from 147 countries outside of the United States. The countries contributing the most students are Colombia, China and Venezuela.

UCF faculty members have degrees from 49 countries outside the United States.

Since 2005, UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management has secured research contracts and grants for 35 tourism projects for 12 nations, including China and South Africa.

Winners of the 2012 Internationalization Awards presented at the breakfast were graduate student Shabnam Haji Mohammad Ali Sabbagh, Professor Naim Kapucu from the School of Public Administration and Professor Emeritus Richard Cornell from the College of Education.