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International Education Week provides unique opportunities

Coral Ciupak
Editor in Chief

Tonight begins the annual International Education Week (IEW) at The College of Wooster, a week-long event celebrating international education and global diversity.
While IEW has been celebrated at the College for over 30 years, it was not recognized at the national level until 2000 as a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. According to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs, IEW is a nationwide effort “to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences.”
IEW at the College opens tonight with the annual Culture Show held at McGaw Chapel from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Emceed by Tina Lam and Dhwani Parsana ’21, the Culture Show will feature 19 acts, including performances by the Chinese Scholars and Students Association, the South Asia Committee, TEAM JAPAN, Latinas Unidas, O.L.A.S. and several others.
Nedas Matulionis ’20, co-director of this year’s Culture Show, is excited by the opportunities that the show’s performances and similar events present for all students at the College.
“For domestic students, it is a unique opportunity to take a glimpse [at] the world outside the U.S., especially to places that they have never heard about,” Matulionis said. “For international students, it is important to come because you learn so much about all the other cultures on earth, and you might find some similarities between places that are super apart.”
Members of the IEW planning committee also encourage students to attend the myriad events being held throughout the following week.
“In general, we want students to realize that IEW is more than just culture show because we have so many amazing events following up,” said Yuxuan Ke ’20, budget director for the IEW planning committee. “For international students, IEW is a voice for them, and I hope they can be proud of their presence in this campus. For domestic students, IEW is a great chance to learn something new and increase understandings about their international friends. Every culture is beautiful and needs to be respected!”
IEW’s 15 events include food and dance workshops, an academic panel, movie and documentary screenings, an international dinner, a bazaar and craft night, a game night and much more. Several of these events are hosted by IEW in collaboration with other student organizations such as the the Ballroom Dance Club, the K-Pop Dance Club, the African Student Union and Let’s Taco ’Bout Food.
“The IEW committee offers a wide variety of events, ranging from academic themed, such as the panel discussion, or more active and exciting workshops, such as the Food or Dance Workshop,” said Stacey Park ’21, a publicist for the IEW planning committee. “Having many different options will allow students who are interested, but have difficulty approaching various cultures, to take part in these events without being intimidated.”
At the College, IEW is a special opportunity for both international and domestic students to learn about and celebrate the cultures that are increasingly represented in the student population. Contrary to the trend of nationwide declines in international enrollment at U.S. institutions, The College of Wooster has seen a record-breaking rate of international applicants and admissions in recent years. The Class of 2022 welcomed 110 international students from of 1,600 applicants this fall, a 40 percent increase from the Class of 2021’s applicants. Those 110 international students will make up nearly 20 percent of the first-year class and represent 35 of the 56 countries represented in the College’s student population. As international enrollment at the College increases, it is all the more important for students, staff and faculty to support and engage with its international community.
“[IEW] is important because I think one of the huge advantages of The College of Wooster is that the international community is huge compared to other small colleges,” said IEW’s co-chair Ryoko Asakuma ’20. “To take advantage of it, IEW is a good opportunity for everyone to get themselves exposed to different cultures just within a week. It is enjoyable, but at the same time, you get to see and actually experience many cultural aspects from all over the world, which you may not be able to if you only sit in the classroom.”
“While International Students Association does monthly events for the international community, having a week long period of events truly allows the campus to understand the extent of diversity on our campus,” said ISA President Gargi Mishra ’20. “With an increasing class size of international students coming in every year, IEW provides all members of the community a chance to experience the multitude of experiences these students bring to campus in various forms of art from all over the world.”
“Activities like IEW seek to create platforms for international and domestic cultures to connect with each other,” said Ke. “Such opportunities are not common in Wooster. It is hard to correct cultural misconceptions, but it is worse to choose ignorance,” she said.
While this year’s IEW will officially conclude on Tuesday, Nov. 13 with an Off-Campus Study Fair, the College community is encouraged to seek ways to continue support for and engagement with the international community.
In a viewpoint published in the Voice last Fall, Yichu Xu ’18, recent graduate and former president of Wooster’s International Student Association (ISA) discussed the need for continued cross-cultural dialogue following events such as those included in IEW.
“As someone who has been a member of multicultural organizations, I can tell you that international students work extremely hard to make sure these events such as cultural dinners and presentations are successful and well-attended,” said Xu. “However, our international programming seems to always be limited to the annual, large-scale events. What we do not see enough of are meaningful, interactive opportunities for domestic and international students to get together and learn from each other.”
As Director of International Student Services, Jill Munro has been vocal about continuing support for this community. In a Voice article published last spring, Munro said, “As our international population continues to grow, everyone in the Wooster community has a responsibility to help welcome them, learn from them and appreciate the new perspectives and values they bring.”
For a full schedule of IEW’s events and how to participate, visit IEW’s Facebook page or its Instagram page @wooiew18.

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