International Education week, which took place from November 15 to November 19, is a national week to celebrate the benefits of international education. During the week, college campuses across the United State prepared events for students to attend with the purpose of promoting and embracing the international education program.
Joining the nationwide festivities was the Stanislaus State International Education department, which hosted a number of events, such as the Peace Corps Session, Language Social, Cultural Pop-up, and more. The purpose of these events are to embrace cultural differences and get to know each other through their language, customs and traditions.
International students who participated in the International Education Week events had high praise for the events.
Xiao Luo (senior, Computer Science) is an international student from China and is in his fifth year at Stanislaus State. Luo is also a first year student of the ALCP (American Language and Culture Program).
“International Education week was one of the best events I’ve attended at Stan State,” Luo said. It helped me get out of my comfort zone and made a lot of friends.”
One of the friends Luo made was Kevin Gonzalez, a domestic student who attended international education week at the same time as Xiao Luo.
International Education week is not only for international students, as domestic students such as Gonzalez are welcomed too. In fact, there are several positive outcomes of domestic students attending the events, as they get to learn and experience different cultures and potentially make new friends among international students. They would also gain interest in different countries and may end up studying abroad themselves.
Language Social is one of the most popular events, which allows students from different countries or cultures to teach other students about their language, such as some words that do not exist in the other languages, dialects, slangs, etc. Through this event, students are able to learn about each other through their language as a language often represents a culture, or a language is a microcosm of a country or region's society and culture.
Cultural Pop-up is also a popular event that allows students to introduce their hometown, cuisines and other customs. Through this process, students garner general ideas of other students’ cultures, which helps students to reduce or even eliminate stereotypes about a country or culture and to have a more comprehensive understanding of other countries or customs.
Cody Evans (alumnus, English) made a couple of new friends during the Cultural Pop-up session in the latest International Education Week.
“I was very surprised when you told me there were different ethnic groups in China. I did not know anything about Uyghur people before [the session],” Evans said.
“I think that especially for our domestic students, it helps them to see what’s going on internationally and opens opportunities for them to be involved,” Hunter said. “For our English language students, it’s an opportunity to integrate with the rest of the campus and degree seeking students.”
Note from the author: As an international student myself, I think the best takeaway from this event are the friendships I made with some of the students. When it was the first year I came to Stan State, I did not have any friends, and with the holiday season coming up, I started getting homesick and lonely. This made me decide to attend the International Education week with the purpose of making friends besides learning about other cultures. By the end of the week, I was able to make friends with some of the students, and one of them even invited me to their house for Thanksgiving dinner.
Just like other campus activities or events, the International Education Week events are also facing some difficulties.
“I think the biggest difficulty is a lack of participation from the campus generally. The current challenge is mainly covid related, obviously, but we still faced challenges with participation even pre-covid,” explained Mary Hunter, Director of International Student Services & ALCP.
International Education Week can be a bridge between different cultures. Through this “bridge,” different students can get to know each other better from different aspects and maybe become friends during this experience. Even though the International Education Week of 2021 has already ended, it may be worth it for many to check it out and attend next year!