Students to celebrate cultures this week

Elizabeth Giorgi

Five days’ worth of food, music, films and speeches aim to help students attain more global awareness this week.

University colleges, departments and student groups are hosting various events to bring awareness of global issues to campus. Some of the events include presentations on study abroad opportunities, film viewings and musical performances.

The events and activities are part of a nationwide recognition in all levels of education.

International Education Week began in 2000, said Jennifer Schulz, communications coordinator in the Office of International Programs.

The program began with the joint initiative work of the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education, she said.

The departments encourage embassies and state departments to recognize the week in different ways, Schulz said.

There isn’t necessarily a theme every year for the week, Schultz said. It is an opportunity for different schools and organizations to bring awareness to their community through learning sessions.

A session called “Promoting Understanding for the South Asian Community,” a part of the Training for Global Understanding series, happens to coincide with International Education Week, Alisa Eland, counselor in the International Student and Scholar Services office said.

The program is a series of workshops hosted by International Student and Scholar Services and the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, she said.

Eland said the week is “a great opportunity to highlight international events.”

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences is hosting a new event this year for students with passports, said John Vreyens, director office of international agricultural programs.

Students can bring their passports to multiple locations on campus and be entered into a raffle to win prizes, he said.

“It highlights the fact that we view international issues as being important,” he said, “and for those students who do have a passport, it makes those students think about it.”

Vreyens said he hopes the college’s participation with International Education Week can influence more students to seek international experiences and study abroad.

The office has been promoting International Education Week since it began, he said, and College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences has seen an increase in the number of students studying abroad.

Electrical engineering graduate student Vikrham Gowreesunker said he thinks the events help bring cultural awareness, but not many people know about the week.

“The idea is to get people who are not usually involved and who don’t usually get exposure to international culture,” he said. “(Students) don’t hear about it to start with so they don’t get a chance to get involved.”

Sociology junior Komal Desai said she hasn’t heard much about International Education Week. The week tends to get bypassed with all the other things going on at the University, she said.

“I definitely think it’s important but I don’t think it’s been publicized enough,” she said.

Vreyens said there wasn’t as much of a turnout last year as the college would have liked, but hopes to see an increase this year because of events such as the passport raffle.

But the efforts to increase global awareness through learning sessions do not end after this week.

Kim Hindbjorgen, student services coordinator in the College of Human Ecology said there are many more events that will continue through the end of the month.

After the week, there will be a Ramadan celebration Saturday and a concert performance Nov. 30.