Out of the more than seven billion people in the world spanning across roughly 196 countries, Eastern Michigan University has 1,005 international students from 81 countries. During the week of Feb. 11-14, EMU plans to acknowledge these students with their own event.
International Week allows international students and faculty to invite domestic members of the EMU community to better understand what other cultures are like.
Eliza Morgan is an ESL/TESOL professor and the director of international initiatives. “I think it’s important for students and faculty and staff to see the differences and similarities among all the cultures we have here,” Morgan said.
In general, the cultures represented at International Week tend to be based from European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Because of this, the staff planning International Week thought it would fit perfectly with Chinese New Year (Feb. 10). To honor the New Year and these cultures, many of the international students will be doing henna and writing student names in the script of their culture Tuesday, Feb. 12 from 1-3 p.m. at the Student Center. Some of the scripts being offered will be Chinese, Japanese and Arabic.
The international students from Saudi Arabia, specifically, are part of the driving force behind this week.
“The Saudi Arabian Student Association has been given a lot of material from what’s called the Cultural Mission,” Morgan said. “The Cultural Mission is the one in Washington ,D.C., that sends students everywhere. The Cultural Mission has given the Saudi students lots of materials so that they can explain their culture.”
To share their culture, the group will be showing a movie about
Saudi Arabia in Student Center Room 310, Thursday, Feb. 14.
Likewise, a Chinese movie will be held in the Student Center Auditorium, Tuesday, Feb. 12 from 6-9 p.m. called, “The Flowers of War.”
While domestic students will not learn a lot about cultures through just movies and poster boards, Morgan hopes that stopping by some of the events planned for International Week will encourage students to want to learn more about the different cultures through other programs.
“I’d like to see more students taking advantage of internships in other countries, teaching English in other countries, even participating in a study abroad,” Morgan said. “It will change them. Anybody I’ve talked to who’s been overseas agrees that that was a crystalizing experience.”
In addition to advertising opportunities for study abroad, EMU will also host representatives from the Peace Corps. Peace Corps representatives will be at the Diversity Fair Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 12-4 p.m.
“I would like them to discover that going to another country and being in another culture with a different language is easier than they might think, in terms of getting there, being there and succeeding there,” Morgan said.
Morgan shared an experience from a prior International Week. “One year I was taking photographs of faces to demonstrate the ‘face’ of EMU. One of the coolest things was having a group of students come by, and I don’t think they necessarily knew each other, but in looking at the picture that they let me take, there was representation of many different ethnic groups. I just thought that was so indicative of students’ willingness and desire to just to be human together.”
For more information visit www.emich.edu/iw.
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