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Davis, California

Tuesday, July 23, 2024

International Education Week

The campus is celebrating International Education Week through Friday. International Education Week, hosted on campus by University Outreach and International Programs (UOIP) is a national event organized by the Department of State and Department of Education to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.

This year, UOIP is promoting how international experience has impacted members of the campus community and will be sharing profiles each day of the week.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

One of the most defining experiences of my life was having the opportunity as a young woman to travel to another country.

I was 22 years old the first time I left Greece. It was 1976; I was a junior at the National Technical University of Athens and I traveled to Germany to present a research paper at an academic conference. I had never been to a conference before or even flown on an airplane. I arrived in Munich for the conference and I found myself in what seemed like a huge place, surrounded by what felt like the rest of the world. I was captivated by everything I saw, from my first experience in a large department store, to the huge train station where the trains departed within one minute of the posted times.

Most of all, I was amazed to be in an environment where people came together to talk about research. I wanted to learn so much more. This experience spurred my curiosity about other places and, ultimately, it influenced my decision to come to the United States to study at UCLA.

That same year, I met a faculty member while I was looking for a summer job. He would later become my mentor in Greece, when he was on sabbatical leave from UCLA. I had the opportunity to work with him the whole summer and, before he left, he told me that if I ever considered graduate studies, that I should go to the U.S. At the time, I did not even know what that meant. I saw some of my colleagues applying for graduate school, but I had no interest as an undergrad and so I politely dismissed the idea. I was focused on graduating and getting a job.

After graduation, I worked for two years as a lab technician in a research laboratory. I was surrounded by many people who had master’s degrees, and I came to realize that they were doing work much more advanced than what I knew. Many of them had studied in the U.S., and they talked about graduate school — this was the moment I realized the value of attending graduate school.

In May of 1979, I asked my husband if he wanted to go to the U.S. for graduate studies and he said yes. I contacted my mentor at UCLA and asked him, “Do you still have space for a graduate student?” He said absolutely and sent me the applications, and so I applied. By September of that year, I was a graduate student at UCLA. It felt like a dream. I couldn’t believe that it could be so nice.

Looking back on these experiences that shaped my future, I was fortunate to have had the opportunities to explore new places. It is my hope that our students at UC Davis take full advantage of every opportunity to open their eyes and their minds to the ever-expanding global community of new people and new worlds, and to make the most of their undergraduate experience at UC Davis.

L. Carolina Tavárez

Alo, komon ou ye?* Starting more than a decade ago, I was exposed to an experience that not many children have: missionary work.

Traveling with my parents as a child to some of the poorest sectors of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti gave me a wider vision of the world, humanity and poverty. After the massive earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, I was encouraged to return to my homeland of Haiti. I became very interested in Haiti’s history, but struggled to understand how a country with such rich history and natural beauty was among the world’s poorest countries.

I went to Haiti during the summer of 2012 for three weeks, thanks to the support of the UC Davis Blum Center Grant Poverty Alleviation Through Action (PATA) program. I stayed in the small village of Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, which is one of the four cities that shares a border with the Dominican Republic, located on the southeast side of the island.

There, I volunteered at two primary schools and taught Spanish and English, trained foreign language teachers and worked on the school’s curriculum development. Thanks to the support of many UC Davis students, I founded Ann Prepare Lavni (APL), the first Haitian club on campus. The name of the club is Haitian Creole and translates to “Let us prepare the future.” Through the club we were able to assist over 200 Haitian students attain school supplies, hygiene products and textbooks. Upon my return to the U.S., the Haitian government and the town of Anse-à-Pitres donated two acres of land to APL, where we are building the first and only library in the town. Furthermore, APL now has three free Spanish and English classes in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and is currently working toward our budget goal of raising $42,000 for building materials.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” If you would like to know more about APL, please visit annpreparelavni.webs.com or email us at annpreparelavni@gmail.com.

*Hello, how are you? (Haitian Creole)

For a full list of International Education Week events, visit uoip.ucdavis.edu/iew.


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