The University of Utah Asia Campus celebrated International Education Week (IEW) by spreading the love and knowledge of different cultures around the world. It was a huge success with around 350 students attending the multiple events throughout the week.
What is International Education Week?
“International Education Week is an initiative established in 2000 by the US Departments of State and Education to celebrate the benefits of international and cultural exchange. At the U of Utah Campus, the objectives of IEW are to promote programs that prepare our students for a global environment, to celebrate the cultural diversity represented without our university community, to share international education resources with our faculty, staff, and students, and to highlight the role of international activity in supporting the University of Utah’s mission,” as stated by International Programs Coordinator, Anna Yacovone.
Why is featuring different cultures important?
The U of Utah Asia Campus is a campus in Songdo, South Korea that welcomes students from all over the world. Currently, there are 91 international students from 17 different countries attending the university, making it important for students to become culturally sensitive by learning and experiencing different cultures. By learning about the world around them, students will be able to broaden their options for the future. Not only do students get to broaden their options for the future, but they also receive the opportunity to prepare for the ever-growing social, economic, and political challenges of the modern world.
How do the students benefit?
Many students from the U of Utah Asia Campus have yet to explore different cultures. International Education Week benefits them, allowing them to gain knowledge about the world through various, exciting events throughout the week. These events vary from lectures on current world events to more relaxing events with international games and food. Not only do the students learn about these cultures by listening, but they experience the culture through food, conversation, and interactive activities.
What are some of the events that International Education Week featured?
There were multiple events every day of International Education Week (Nov 14 – 17), appealing to the different types of students that attend the U of Utah Asia Campus.
To kick off IEW, the International Student Diplomat program hosted a relaxing and fun geography game & Uzbek food event, where students name 5 different countries on a map to win a Samsa. Samsas are a crunchy triangle-shaped pastry from Uzbekistan that is filled with different types of minced meat, onions, and fragrant spices. The students were given the choice of lamb, beef, or meat and potatoes.
One freshman from the U of Utah Asia Campus who has not previously tried Uzbek cuisine commented,
“It [the samsa] was interesting because it’s a meat-filled brittle dough. I liked it because it had a lot of meat in it and was very tender.”
Another event hosted at the U of Utah Asia Campus was the Writing Center Awards Ceremony.
The Writing Center is a center at the U of Utah Asia Campus dedicated to improving students’ writing skills through peer tutoring. It is available to students through the appointment and often holds different types of contests to encourage students to improve their writing.
This semester, the Writing Center held an award ceremony for contests held for International Education Week. The three categories for the contests were the “Cocktail of Identity Contest,” “Being a student at an International Campus means ___,” and the “Time-Traveling Letter” contest. The contests provided various prizes ranging from Starbucks Tumblers and Instax Polaroid Cameras to Airpod Pro2s and Coffee Machines.
The winner of one of the Cocktails of Identity Contest, Hayeon (Grace) Choi, is currently a sophomore majoring in Communications BA. As the name might suggest, the Cocktail of Identity Contest is a contest where one designs their cocktail glass and fills it up with different things that reflect their identity. Haeyon Choi shares her own experience making her cocktail design:
She talks about how the chocolate mountain represented the mountains of Pakistan, the country where she struggled with cultural differences and bonded with different friends. She also talks about the stars in the drink and how stars shine in the dark. The stars represent the different cultures that are made up in the U of Utah Asia Campus.
“The U of Utah Asia Campus has many different cultures and these differences make the beautiful night sky and shining stars,” Hayeon Choi says.
She also explains more about the elements of her cocktail, saying that “The third element is the triangular shape joined together to make a cocktail glass. Triangle is the most stable shape and the three sides are made up of my two parents and my sister. They are the ones who give me stability and support. I started graphic design when I was in 10th grade because of my friends. The main inspiration for my cocktail was my family and the unique cultural backgrounds that I have. I enjoyed trying to express my background with a cocktail.”
What about Korean culture?
For students that just want a taste of Korean culture, International Education Week features a Korean calligraphy event. The U of Utah Writing Center collaborated with Hellen Kim, a Korean calligrapher and engraver, to allow students to learn and create their calligraphy scroll. The event allowed students to learn the proper strokes of the brush, how to properly do the strokes, and the different styles of calligraphy (modern and traditional), as well as get help from the instructor to come up with meaningful phrases that they can hang on their walls.
One such student who attended this event was Carson Mickles, a sophomore majoring in film and media arts at the U of Utah Asia Campus. She stated that it was her third time going to this event.
“I’ve gone [to this event] every semester because it’s good practice for calligraphy and I genuinely enjoy it. I also like the instructor; she’s nice and takes the time to teach different things about calligraphy that are very interesting.”
What are some plans for future International Education Week?
Plans for future International Education Weeks include improving upon the events that took place this year, such as the panel discussion hosted by professors on an important timely topic like this year’s Russian-Ukraine War. International Education Week also hopes to have a guest speaker series that faculty can integrate into their courses and to create an assessment to capture the impact of IEW or knowledge gained by students. Ultimately, the goal for the future is to improve upon IEW to create an environment where students will continue to grow in their curiosity about the world and expand on their cultural knowledge while enjoying themselves.
Special recognition to the staff and faculty of the U of Utah Asia Campus, and the special guests that collaborated with the U of Utah Asia Campus who made International Education Week possible: Anna Yacavone, Maite Teresa Martinez Garcia, Kera Lovell, Porter Morgan, Scott Morris, Hugh Schuckman, Siah Seong, and John Woo.