International education week under way

By Alissa Groeninger

The University has designated March 28 to April 6 as International Education Week, encouraging students and faculty to explore other cultures. Many of the University’s international centers and academic departments have come together to create a varied series of cultural events that will expose participants to other ways of life, said Sarah Gleisner, outreach coordinator for Student International Academic Affairs.

“(The goal of International Education Week is) to give an opportunity to draw on the reflections, not only on our campus, but with global events,” said Karen Hewitt, outreach coordinator for the Center for Global Studies.

While some events are available all year, including a West African dance workshop with Djibril Camara & the Mara Giri Ensemble, many of the events are planned specifically for International Education Week, Gleisner said. Other events planned include lectures, workshops, films and music festivals. The undergraduate library is sponsoring International Film Week, where it will play different international films from Tuesday to Thursday. AIESEC, a University group that encourages its members to explore other cultures, is hosting an international music festival, “Global Vibes,” at the Canopy Club on Wednesday. The proceeds will be donated to charity.

“We pride ourselves on putting together a diverse slate of activities that will be appealing to everyone,” said Matt VanderZalm, communications officer for international engagement in International Programs and Studies.

VanderZalm said exposure to other cultures allows students to increase their knowledge of the world, which is becoming more and more important due to the growing significance of globalization.

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    “They have the opportunity to grow as a globalized student, which I think fits into the University’s mission of becoming an international university,” he said.

    VanderZalm said it is important to have knowledge of different cultures and people in a society where the workforce is relying more and more on other cultures. Someone may have to work overseas or with someone in another country over the phone from a desk in the United States, he added.

    “You really need to have intercultural knowledge and intercultural sensitivity to succeed,” Gleisner said.

    Gleisner said students need to learn about other cultures because they will be competing with people from around the world for jobs.

    “A student should really think about it,” Gleisner said. “Go and have fun, but also think about what location is being represented, … think deeply about it.”

    VanderZalm said Champaign and Urbana have both dedicated this week to international education, and of the estimated 7,000 people who attended last year’s events, many were community members. Gleisner and Hewitt emphasized that while this week is specifically designated to international education, the University has many international opportunities as well as opportunities to learn about other cultures throughout the entire year.

    Gleisner said this week is the International Education Week Committee’s effort to get students to take advantage of what the University has to offer.

    “(There) could be an International Education Year,” Hewitt said.