Keenan Thungtrakul/Senior Reporter
This past week was International Education Week, an initiative brought forth by Embry-Riddle’s Office of Global Engagement (OGE). The initiative was meant to help students gain a sense of appreciation for the diversity of the student body and encourage them to pursue opportunities abroad, whether through summer programs or exchange programs. Sodexo offered themed meals for students so they could have a taste of different international cuisines. The WIKD 102.5 played music from a variety of cultures on the radio throughout the week for students and the community to listen to. OGE hosted various events and gatherings throughout the week, which culminated in Saturday’s Coming to Africa culture show hosted by the African Students Association.
The week began with a photo exhibition at Starbucks, featuring study abroad groups from the various summer programs. Tuesday featured “Snacks and Laughs,” which was held in the Office of the Registrar. Students were able to sample a wide variety of snacks from across the globe including Mexican chips and salsa, German brats (small sausage bits), French crepes, Swedish ginger cookies, Russian tea cakes, Korean dried seaweed, and English scones. Games were set up to entertain everyone including the staff working at the office. This provided a nice study break for students and allowed them to converse with Registrar and Library staff on matters outside of their usual business.
Wednesday featured a showcase on the UC flight deck of exchange students along with Embry-Riddle professors advertising their countries and the study abroad programs accompanying them. Health Services was there with flag trivia, seeing whether students knew the countries whose flags were hung around the UC. Countries featured in the showcase included, but were not limited to, Italy, Greece, Germany, Poland, and Spain. OGE ambassadors and professors distributed flyers for their study programs to students to recruit them for the coming year.
Thursday highlighted a small group of exchange students, OGE staff, and regular students in their roundtable discussion of cultural appreciation and awareness. Starbucks provided coffee and tea for the participants to enjoy while getting to know more about each other and the cultures they hail from. Cultural awareness is important in a diverse setting where people from all over the globe are present. It makes one more able to adapt to any situation and interact with people in a proper manner. The experience of living and working in another country helps to broaden horizons and enables one to experience new cultures and traditions, even if for a short time. The scenery is different, the interactions with others are different, and more notably, the food is different. One of the best ways to learn about a new culture is by tasting food from that culture; authentic food, not adaptations from other countries around the world. For those who have the chance to go on an exchange program, the style of teaching and learning is different and one has to adapt to fit in with the new culture.
Director of the Office of Global Engagement, Sue Macchiarella, stated, “we are the future of our own countries.” Everyone has a duty to protect and maintain our cultural heritage, passing it on to the next generation when the time comes.
There’s beauty in every country and culture and as Macchiarella said, we should learn to appreciate cultural diversity and allow each country to have a uniqueness by maintaining and preserving its own culture. Those who have traveled know how diverse the world is, and having a chance to immerse oneself in another culture is a real eye-opener. Referring back to an article published in Issue 9 of The Avion, Dean Gains of the COAS mentioned attempting to create more language programs at Embry-Riddle so students could have one as a minor or simply out of interest.
Thursday afternoon featured “Study Abroad and Your Resume”, a short presentation by Career Services ambassador and program manager Ryan Mazon. Mazon shared various tips on how to highlight study abroad experience in a resume, cover letter, or essay, even if the experience was only for a week.
Friday featured the International Food Challenge. The event was intended to be like the TV show Top Chef, where participants cook their best dishes to present to a panel of judges. Here, exchange students showed off their country’s cuisine in a popularity contest. To finish out the week, the African Students Association (ASA) put on their annual cultural show “Coming to Africa”. This is the third time that they have hosted this show, and once again they have shown that Africa has its own unique cultures, traditions, and capacity for growth. Entrepreneurship was a big one, and a video played during the show highlighting a growing automotive and aviation industry thanks to entrepreneurs and young women making a difference. The show also featured a parade of flags, several skits set to traditional stories, spoken words, a fashion show, as well as dance and musical performances. MCs Sabelo Mathebula and Ruth Chungi coordinated and commentated on the show. Dr. Kenneth Hunt of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion gave a special speech on the three different types of intelligence: intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Dr. Hunt encouraged the audience to diversify their experiences so they will be prepared for the future.
With so many cultures on the Embry-Riddle campus, IE Week allowed all of them to present themselves in a fun, creative, and educational manner.