Across the United States last week (and for much of November!), campuses and organizations celebrated International Education Week (IEW) with a variety of events, workshops, and festivals designed to increase awareness about the benefits of cultural exchange and learning about different peoples, places, and practices. IEW is jointly sponsored each year by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote positive effects of programs like Global UGRAD and many others that introduce people around the world to different ways of thinking and learning. You can check out their website for more information here.
This semester, many Global UGRAD students have participated in IEW events on their campuses and in their communities, and still many others have taken the time to reflect on what international education means to them. At Endicott College, Tifany Batista (Panama), participated in a panel with five other international students where they had open conversations about their experiences in the United States and shared their opinions about intercultural education and communication with domestic students on campus. Endicott also hosted a Global Village where Tifany educated others about Panama and talked about the fun and interesting aspects of her culture.
Tifany Batista, Panama, Global UGRAD 2020-2021, Endicott College
Further north, at SUNY Plattsburgh, Sohayla Erroui delivered a presentation about her home country of Morocco. She set up a table and included information about Moroccan culture, languages, traditions, and nature. She even prepared msammen, a traditional Moroccan flatbread, and demonstrated how to pour and serve tea Moroccan style! At this event, she spoke with students from the United States as well as international students from many different countries with the aim of giving accurate information and correcting any stereotypes that people might have about her country and customs.
Sohayla Erroui, Morocco, Global UGRAD 2020-2021, SUNY Plattsburgh
In the west at his host university, the University of Wyoming, Zaw Than Soe had the opportunity to represent his home country of Myanmar. He wore traditional clothing and set up a colorful table with the Myanmar flag and photos. When he posted about the experience, he wrote “I am beyond words for getting the chance to represent Myanmar and explain about our country to everyone.” Even without words, his excitement about cultural exchange is clear! This reflects more broadly on the many amazing experiences Global UGRADs are having this semester, both during IEW and beyond!
Zaw Than Soe, Myanmar, Global UGRAD 2020-2021, University of Wyoming
International education means learning about the many diverse and unique aspects of our world, and being open to learning from and sharing with others. Andreina Quesada (Costa Rica), who is studying at Wayne State University reflects that it is “an opportunity that has opened my eyes to a new academic world,” where she can “learn a different culture and traditions.” One of the most surprising things about U.S. culture she discovered is how popular (American) football is!
International education may mean something different to each person (and what you learn might surprise you!), so it is worth taking some time to think about what it means to you! Happy International Education Week!