Marywood marked International Education Week last week with many fun and educational events for the community.
The goal of International Education Week, according to its website, is “to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.”
The week, which is also co-sponsored by the U.S. Departments of State and Education, began on Sunday, November 13, with the International Mass in the Marian Chapel. Mass included international students participating in the liturgy and traditional music from various countries.
On Monday, there was “A Night of Music” with students performing international music in the
Fireplace Lounge. The week also included an International Fashion Show in collaboration with the Office of Diversity Efforts featuring traditional international garments modeled by students. There was a performance by the Irish Step Dancers as well.
The highlight of the week was the International Dinner on Wednesday, November 16. The evening’s keynote speaker was Egyptian born business professor, Dr. Ahmed Gomaa. His topic, “One Internet, One World,” discussed the role of social media in Egypt’s recent revolution.
The week also included a Cultural Exposition with students showcasing dress, jewelry, pictures, musical instruments, artifacts, and food from their native countries. The week concluded with a showing of an international film in the Comerford Theater.
David Crisci, associate director of international affairs, said that international students comprise about one percent of Marywood’s student population. The majority of these students come from countries in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
One of the main purposes of International Education Week is to raise cultural awareness. “It is important for international and domestic students to get to know each other” and for students unable to study overseas “to understand and to get to know students from another country so they can get that study abroad experience at home,” added Crisci.
Some of the challenges that international students face is the language barrier and the unfamiliar culture, along with some professors’ teaching styles. He noted that students are taught to be “much more independent in Europe.”
Daniel Sputa, a second year financial information systems graduate student from the Czech Republic, said that while it was difficult at first being in new surroundings, he was supported by others on campus who understood his challenges. “My friends were from my country […] We faced the same issues and problems [together]. It was much easier.”
Sputa is also one of the organizers of International Education Week. He encouraged all students to reach out to the international students that they meet, while also being sensitive to the changes they are experiencing.
“The international students come from different backgrounds, different ages, different levels of maturity.
Give them space. Ask them how they are doing. Give them help if they ask. Invite them to events,” Sputa added.
The Office of International Affairs has grown tremendously in recent years, especially in study abroad opportunities, according to Crisci. Next semester, approximately 20 students will be studying abroad and there will be a total of six spring break tours to Spain, Italy, China, France, England, and India.
For more information on International Education Week, visit http://iew.state.gov/.