Traveling the world can cost thousands of dollars and take a lot of time, but students at USD this week are getting a taste of other cultures without setting foot off campus.
International Education Week is a collaborative effort with the Center for Diversity & Community, the Center for Academic & Global Engagement and the International Office.
Lamont Sellers, the associate vice president for diversity, said the CDC became involved with planning for International Education Week last year.
The events for this week included the Gilman Scholarship panel on Monday, Expressions of Identity: Religion workshop on Tuesday, Cultural Fair on Wednesday and a passport workshop and International Tea Time on Thursday.
The Cultural Fair is being organized by graduate students Sudarshan Paul and Prakriti Rajbhandari. The fair will have students and different organizations on campus from different countries showcasing things such as clothes or other objects that represent their cultures.
Rajbhandari said she is excited to organize the event because she enjoys seeing the different cultures come together.
“The whole purpose of the Cultural Fair is letting people know of different communities on campus that (are) diverse and that there are students from around the world willing to share their culture and traditions,” Rajbhandari said. “Each time I feel like I already know enough people… whenever there are these events happening, I learn even more and then I meet new people and then I realize there are other communities in USD that I didn’t know about until they come out and participate in this kind of Cultural Fair.”
Paul said he is excited for the Cultural Fair and seeing student interactions.
“Through the fair, we want to highlight the diversity on campus and also educate students about various cultures around the world,” Paul said.
Sellers said his favorite thing about International Education Week is representing the diverse backgrounds of international students and also allowing other students to show interest in traveling abroad.
“Our international student population is steadily growing,” Sellers said. “It’s always great for them to be able to have that pride of where they have come from and being able to showcase that. And also for our domestic students here to be able to look for the opportunities that they have to be able to study abroad, to be able to travel and to be able to get those experiences outside of the United States.”
Rajbhandari said International Education Week is important in helping students learn about other cultures.
“We believe that culture shock is something that happens only to international students, but we realize it also happens to students who come from smaller places even smaller than Vermillion,” Rajbhandari said. “I think hosting these kinds of events where they actually get to meet people and share their experiences make them feel more welcome. These kind of events are adding more diversity and inclusiveness, and that’s the core of the university.”
Paul said he enjoys International Education Week for the “real world experience” being offered.
“As an international student, I really see how important it is to an individual, not just growing up in their own town… the world is big and everyone has to experience something different in their life,” Paul said. “As an international student, I can give them the experience, but I cannot tell them what exact opportunities are available from my standpoint.”
Events for the week are chosen by CAGE, the CDC and the International Student Club, and “really comes down to what we can fit in,” Sellers said. Since the week is busy, being that it’s before Thanksgiving, Sellers said the groups have to plan so they’re not competing with other activities going on the same day.
“It’s really a balancing act and trying to make sure that we’re not pulling students away from something else that they could be involved in,” Sellers said.
Sellers said he is looking forward to learning about other cultures from other students.
“(I like seeing) that pride that students have for sharing,” Sellers said. “We have so many students that come from so many different places. To be able to literally jump from Bangladesh to Nepal to China to Sri Lanka to Sub-Saharan Africa back to Mexico, and go to all these different places from the confines of our institution is just a wonderful opportunity to get that type of knowledge.”