The goal of International Education Week is to help Etown campus become more globally minded, more internationalized. We highlight a lot of different cultures and make Etown students aware of what’s going on in the rest of the world,” senior and International Leadership Assistant (ILA) Alexandria Krause said.
International Education Week was established by the US Department of State and the US Department of Education in 2000 to encourage Americans to become global citizens and to encourage people from abroad to study in the US. This year the dates are Nov. 14 to 18, but Elizabethtown College campus is celebrating the Week early, from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11.
Director of International Student Services Kristi Syrdahl believes the week also promotes US students studying abroad. “Far fewer North American students study abroad than international students study in the States,” Syrdahl stated.
The focus of this year’s International Education Week at Etown is the Dignity, not Charity Food Drive. The Office of International Student Services (OISS) is running the food drive from Nov. 7 to Nov. 30 to collect culturally appropriate food items for recently resettled refugees in the Lancaster area.
There is a Rice for Refugees Angel Tree located on the second floor of the Brossman Commons (BSC) with angels that list culturally appropriate food, such as rice, vegetable oil, black tea, curry powder and beans. Students can take an angel and buy the food listed on its back. Donations can be dropped off in the basket located at the base of the tree.
Associated with this food drive is the Refugee Camp in the Heart of Campus. This display consists of two tents outside the BSC. Inside are examples of what refugees might have with them at a refugee camp, such as sleeping bags, toys and school supplies.
Informational signs with statistics and information from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are placed throughout the tents to help educate visitors. In the first tent, students can write their reactions in a log. They can either write anonymously or sign their name.
“Heartbreaking. Happy that we can raise awareness and support local refugees,” Krause wrote.
International Education Week kicked off with the Global Village in the BSC concourse on Nov. 7. Syrdahl decided to call it a village because different, internationally-minded clubs and activities were all in one place.
A henna artist named Arva had a table. She applied Indian and middle Eastern-style temporary tattoos to students’ hands. Sophomore and ILA Gaia Lazzarini was surprised at how long the line at her table got.
The Dignity not Charity Food Drive also had a table. ILAs sold colored pots containing dirt and a world-shaped package of seeds. They also sold raffle tickets for prizes, such as a scratch map, “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries” by Terri Morrison and Wayne Conaway and an international-themed coloring book. All proceeds will go toward buying culturally appropriate food for local refugees.
Clubs like No Boundaries and Better Together also had tables. No Boundaries sold bracelets with “hope” written in different languages to raise money for the Red Cross. BCA Study Abroad manned a table to answer students’ questions about study abroad programs.
Free food from different countries was available in the Blue Bean Café, including clotted cheese with strawberry preserves, scones, baklava, Danish oatmeal cookies and Turkish delight. There was also tea from around the world, such as Yunnan Bo Nay tea from China.
International music played in the background, and OISS and Facilities put up different countries’ flags for the event. Lazzarini remembered seeing her native country of Italy’s flag.
“It felt like I was part of something big,” Lazzarini said. “I’m here, and I’m represented, even though me and another guy—we’re just two from Italy—but we’re part of this, you know? It feels great.”
A new event this year was Culture through Art, Nov. 8 on the second floor of the BSC near the Sacred Space, students used a variety of materials and art supplies, such as string, pipe cleaners, colored pencils, water and acrylic paints, straws and markers, to create art that represented what culture meant to them.
First-year Madeline Gingrich painted a Korean woman in traditional South Korean dress, called hanbok, to represent her experience at a six week, government-sponsored program in Seoul, South Korea. During this time, Gingrich studied Korean at a local college.
“I haven’t been able to use the language much, so that’s why I wrote ‘Hello’ on here informally [in Korean] to kind of express trying to use Korean still to speak with others like how you enter a conversation with ‘Hello,’” Gingrich said.
Junior and ILA Muntabir Choudhury planned the event based on an event his high school in Bangladesh had. Choudhury hoped Culture through Art would bring American and international students together.
After the event, participants could leave their artwork to be judged by assistant professor of art Dr. Kristi Arnold. They could win prizes like tickets to MoviE-Town and a gift card to Folklore. The artwork was then displayed on the second floor of the BSC and will remain there for several weeks.
Another new event was the Study Abroad Storytelling Circle Process on Nov. 7. Students who had recently returned from studying abroad and international students who will return home soon met to share their experiences.
“Coming back from studying abroad or being an international student here in the United States and then going home, it’s really hard to adjust to culture shock,” Syrdahl said. “A way to help mitigate that culture shock is to purposely have a program that allows students to share their stories about when they’ve gone abroad or their experiences here.”
Director of Study Abroad Sabina Post introduced the event. Dell Area Coordinator Cody Miller and Syrdahl used their Restorative Circle training from a program with Kay Pranis in September to lead the event. The group talked for over two hours. Syrdahl thought it was a success and was especially happy that no one checked their phones during the event, but were respectful and actively listening.
The Global Dinner this year was Greek-themed. Syrdahl was inspired by Gingrich’s experience in Greece during a summer study abroad program. “Everything this year—at Center Plate, at Hearth, at soup, at salad bar and at dessert—is all going to be Greek-inspired food,” Syrdahl said.
For more information about International Education Week, contact Syrdahl at firstname.lastname@example.org.