International Education Week sparks worldwide engagement, international student awareness
Last summer, while Jami Miller, a fourth-year international relations and Spanish double major, was taking a business writing class, she had the opportunity to do a cultural diversity project with two of her classmates, both of whom were from China. The experience allowed Miller to get to know people she most likely wouldn’t have met otherwise.
“I hadn’t realized how many international students we have [here at Davis] because I feel like I was one of a handful of native students in that classroom,” Miller said. “It’s cool though because you don’t realize that you don’t need to just study abroad to get a completely different experience, sometimes it comes to you. You have to be open to it because it could be really cool.”
UC Davis is home to more than 8,400 international students and scholars, a number that far outweighs the 1,300 or so students that study abroad each year. Not only that, but UC Davis maintains around 150 partnerships with institutions in 45 countries around the world.
The internationally-focused intentions of UC Davis fall under the responsibility of Global Affairs, which encompasses programs including Study Abroad and Services for International Students and Scholars. This year, Global Affairs hosted its 15th International Education Week.
“International Education Week provides an excellent opportunity for international students at UC Davis to share about their home countries, experiences and perspectives of being in the United States,” said Joanna Regulska, the Vice Provost and Associate Chancellor of Global Affairs and a professor of gender, sexuality and women’s studies. “In return, they also get to meet with and hear from other international students and students from California and around the U.S. about their experiences and perspectives.”
International Education Week, which ran from Nov. 13 to 17, is set by the U.S. Departments of State and Education to celebrate the benefits of global education and international exchange.
“This year, we have events ranging from international grant writing and career workshops to international game and karaoke nights,” Regulska said. “There is a film screening, language fair, storytelling workshop, study abroad information session, calligraphy class, potluck dinner and even an international fair to wrap up the week at the International Center with food, student performances and cultural exhibits.”
Miller, who is currently a student assistant for Global Affairs, is no stranger to engaging with new cultures. She previously spent time studying abroad in Peru and plans to study abroad again in Chile to finish up her Spanish degree. She notes that International Education Week isn’t just for international students to come and learn, but domestic students as well.
“It’s hard to reach the entire student body here, [and] we still kind of see a divide between international students and students who are from the United States,” Miller said. “I think this week and these programs in general will really help push people together and show them that there are ways to learn about each other and learn about each other’s cultures and everything.”
Another student who appreciates International Education Week is Edward Xia, a second-year economics major who is also part of the Global Ambassador Mentorship Program. Edward, an international student from China, was a mentee his freshman year and is now a mentor for the program.
“We have five mentees for each mentor,” Xia said. “Basically we will introduce [them to] the UC Davis community, the diversity on campus, the American culture and the Davis local activities and lifestyle before they come to Davis. When they arrive at Davis we prepare many events for them such as the kickoff event, or a Halloween party, or the current International Education Week for them to get more involved into the UC Davis community.”
Xia mentors students from all over the world: one from Mexico, two from China, one from Indonesia and another from India. He has hosted activities with them like hang out sessions where they drink tea and chat, and has even taken them to the iconic Black Bear Diner downtown, which he says was quite the hit.
“Anyone, any race, any gender, any background can apply to be a mentor [or mentee] in this program,” Xia said. “We are a really diverse group.”
UC Davis International Education Week and the Global Ambassadors program are just two programs run by Global Affairs that help foster understanding and engagement between different people from different backgrounds in an increasingly interconnected community and world.
“[The] world is becoming more globalized, and society is more diverse,” Xia said. “We really need to introduce to the whole campus culture from all over the world, because we have students from all over the world.”
Written By: Marlys Jeane — firstname.lastname@example.org