From November 15-19, Community College Initiative (CCI) Program international exchange participants celebrated International Education Week (IEW) 2021. International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education and is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.
Participants at all eleven CCI Program partner campuses across the United States took part in celebrating their cultures and the unique opportunities international exchanges grant both exchange students and the local communities they interact with.
On Monday, CCI participants at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah kicked off IEW by attending a new flag dedication, in which flags representing the home countries of all international students at the college were placed in a new exhibition area. They were also featured performers at the ceremony and performed a group dance in cultural attire for attendees of the dedication. Meanwhile, at Kirkwood Community College, CCI participants demonstrated how to make and serve cultural teas and coffees during an International Coffee and Teatime event. At Sinclair Community College, CCI participants represented nine countries during a Country Fair.
Throughout the week, CCI participants engaged in international festivals, fairs, panels, potlucks, and showcases. In Florida, Virginia, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Maryland, Houston, and Utah CCI participants dressed in their country’s traditional clothing, gave performances and shared informative presentations about national art, flags, food, languages, dances, and traditions.
James Baroi (Bangladesh, Northampton Community College, Tourism and Hospitality 2021-2022) reflected on the week calling it an “opportunity to exchange the culture, lifestyle, and social values of individuals from around the world.”
CCI international students also collaborated with college clubs to help facilitate IEW 2021 events. At Valencia College in Florida, they worked with the Valencia Intercultural Student Association to host the “A World Full of Color” event on campus. At Kirkwood Community College in Iowa, CCI participants facilitated the college’s collaborative dialogue on inclusive spaces, promoting welcoming and inclusive centers for learning on campus.
By the end of the week, IEW left a meaningful impression on CCI participants across the country. Akhilesh Sharma (India, Northern Virginia Community College – Annandale, Business Administration, 2021-2022) summed it up best saying, “I think [..] the beauty of [International Education Week is] no matter where you are coming from and who you are, everyone is able to participate as equals. This event opened the eyes for so many students who never heard of different countries [giving them a chance to learn and hear from others who have lived their whole lives in those] countries.”
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Written by Evan T. Flatt, Alumni Relations and Communications Coordinator