SF State’s community gathered to celebrate the global and cultural diversity that makes the University unique as the Office of International Programs kicked off its 16th annual International Education Week celebration Monday.
“We have faculty, staff and students from all around the world,” said Office of International Programs Associate Director Jay Ward. “Coming from an institution like SF State, which prides itself on ethnic and cultural diversity, we are the City’s university.”
As part of the week-long celebration, there will be a variety of workshops, panel discussions and cultural performances that will give students the opportunity to learn more about how they can engage with the international community and study abroad, according to the Office of International Programs’ website.
“It feels so good when people want to know more about your culture,” said Malaysian international student Michelle Zhiyen. “The best part is when all the (American) students and other international students get excited and ask you all sorts of cultural questions.”
During the week, students can participate in world fusion dance classes, Japanese tea ceremonies, Zumba classes and a mock climate summit debate. Along with these activities, SF State instrumental jazz combos and the SF State Percussion Ensemble will perform music from around the world.
There will be workshops for students to learn how they can study abroad and a panel discussion in which students can meet diplomats and learn what it is like to be a diplomat in today’s world.
International Education Week is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education that began in 2000 to praise the benefits of international collaboration and exchange of ideas, according to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. International Education Week is now observed at thousands of universities around the world.
“(SF State) is an international school, and the world is globalized,” said SF State international relations professor Kathleen McAfee. “The more we understand what’s going on in other countries and the more people we know in other countries, the better we can understand the world and how to make good decisions in it.”
International Education Week is a chance for SF State to show its commitment to international students and education by acknowledging the variety of cultures present at SF State, Ward said.
For international students at SF State, this week is a fun and exciting opportunity to further connect with the University and the American students on campus, said assistant event coordinator and international student King Yaw Soon. The week also helps Americans gain greater understanding and exposure to the world’s cultures, Soon said.
“This is a good opportunity for the school and students to get to know other parts of the world,” Soon said. “The other side of this event is for international students to present their culture to Americans as well.”
International Education Week strengthens SF State’s relationship with its international students, according to Ward, who said the cultural and ethnic diversity of the campus community is a key aspect in the growth of the University as a whole.
“(We’re) trying to bring the world to SF State,” Ward said. “We want to highlight international educational exchange and how these exchanges contribute to our campus community and overall global peace.”