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The Carletonian

International Education Week Talks Diversity

<o exotic snacks, diverse performances, inspiring talks, and stimulating discussions come together?

The answer is International Education Week. Last week, from October 22-25, the Office of Intercultural and International Life (OIIL) hosted events supporting transnational and cross-cultural exchanges. According to Brisa Zubia’05, Administrative Assistant of OIIL, the goal of International Education Week was to “bring awareness of the different cultures and political views here on campus.”

International Education Week is a nationwide event initiated by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education in 2000, which aims to highlight international education and exchange.

Conventionally, it is held during the second week of November.

Due to Carleton’s trimester schedule, however, it takes place during the last week of October. The events for the week are designed together by OIIL office and the OIIL peer leaders and differ each year.

The week began on Monday in Sayles, where OIIL office employees handed out programs and snacks to advertise the various events of the week. 

That afternoon, Meera Sury ’14 showed a presentation of her Davis fellowship project “Kalamkari Kalai [fabric arts]: a Davis Project for Peace.”
Sury went to Northern India to teach women how to mass-produce and market their goods so they can become economically self-sufficient.
Martin Olague, assistant director of OIIL, mentioned, “Many students felt that it was a life-changing presentation and wished that more people would have come.”

Normally, visitors to the OIIL office on lower Scoville are greeted by laughter and the scent of hot cocoa.

These details are due to “Tea time,” a tradition started last year to offer students a space to relax and connect. Once every week, students come to have snacks, socialize, or do homework.

Last Tuesday, besides the normal Nutella and toast, there were snacks from different countries. Olague noted, “There were more people than usual that came, and it is really important to have this time where people can just chill and feel at home.”

Chili Night on Wednesday night brought people together to address “Media and Explorations of International Stereotypes.” 

Nermine Abdelwahabv ‘15 commented that the night was “very thought-provoking and interesting,  sharing experiences as to not only what are the different stereotypes we have about different regions, but also why those stereotypes developed, and how they are being propagated today.

“One of my favorite things about Chili Nights is that it brings together a very diverse group of students and staff, which in itself creates an atmosphere that allows exchanges of ideas.”

The moves of the Indian dance troupe “Tamarind” and the tunes of the a capella group “Intertwining Melodies” welcomed all to the annual International Education Week banquet.

The theme this year was “exchange,” which featured several talks by Muslim students on the difficulties they faced when making transitions into American society. Sarah Tan ‘16 reflected on these speeches and stated that they were “…very eye-opening, because they spoke about how Islam is seen in a negative light, and how people are rather ignorant of it.”

“I think it taught a lot of the students not to pre-judge people you don’t know,” she said.

“In fact, asking is the right, and probably the most sensitive, thing to do.” 

When it came to suggestions for the week, Bing Shui’16 felt that “few upperclassmen attended the events,” and hoped to see events that would facilitate “more interaction between the different classes of international students.”
Nevertheless, many agreed that the week was original and succeeded in presenting and exchanging different identities.

Most importantly, the ending of International Education Week marked the beginning of new cultural dialogues and exchanges, which will surely continue at Carleton.     

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