International Education Week celebrates global education and worldwide exchange

International Education Week celebrates global education and worldwide exchange

U.S. Department of State and Department of Education initiative comes to campus

UC Davis is celebrating International Education Week from Nov. 18 to Nov. 22, 2019 — a nationally recognized event resulting from a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. This week is a result of “efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences,” according to the International Education Week website.

“What we’re trying to focus on is this concept of ‘Global Aggie,’” said Rob Davis, the director of intercultural programs through the Global Learning Hub and Global Affairs. “[Global Aggies are] UC Davis students, in particular grad and undergrad, but also scholars and faculty, who are engaging critical global issues. We want to celebrate what they are doing.”

Davis also defined International Education Week to be a process of “demystifying what global challenges are and what it means to be globally engaged.” 

In particular, International Education Week at UC Davis reaffirms the importance of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

“One of the things we want to do here in the Global Learning Hub is demonstrate to students and really everybody on campus, the way that UC Davis is engaging [with the goals], here in the U.S. and all over the world,” Davis said. “It’s really raising the profile of what students are doing.”

Global Affairs and UC Davis are in collaboration to spearhead an array of events and activities, connecting national endeavors to campus.

Global Affairs is committed to “inspiring global curiosity, understanding and engagement,” according to its website. Specifically, it affirms a commitment “to educating the next generation of problem solvers and change makers.” 

“Basically, we just put out a call through every channel that we had,” Davis said. “We said, ‘If you have a story to tell, if you have an experience that represents how you were engaged in a global challenge, then we’d like you to think about sharing it during this focused week.’”

Global learning events, information sessions for studying abroad, workshops for international fieldwork grant writing and film previews are examples of opportunities that students, staff and faculty are able to participate in through International Education Week. 

“There are a lot of really great stories that are out there,” said Blake Cooper, Assistant Director of Communications at Global Affairs. “There are definitely students that are coming back, sharing and reflecting on what they just experienced, staff who are working with students to learn about all of these global learning opportunities and faculty who are trying to integrate this into their class.” 

For instance, International Education Week recognizes the work of student organizations like Engineers Without Borders and Project RISHI, an acronym for Rural India Social and Health Improvement. 

Engineers Without Borders traveled abroad to “improve water access, sanitation, and hygiene in Latin America,” ultimately enhancing their education and advancing their professional goals, according to the Global Affairs website.

Similarly, Project RISHI brought computer programming and financial literacy to rural settings in Southern India. Through their presentation with International Education Week, Project RISHI hoped to communicate “why a sustainable and community-driven approach is essential to project development,” according to the Global Affairs website. 

“We want people to not just be inspired by it, but we want them to realize that they’re part of a movement,” Davis said. “We want everyone to have an opportunity to engage in global learning.” 

Three UC Davis faculty members of the Global Affairs’ Curriculum Enhancement through Global Learning Professional Development Program, from 2018 to 2019, hosted a panel Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, to connect the overarching themes of International Education Week in a classroom setting. John Goldberg, a lecturer from the Graduate School of Management, Assistant Professor of Teaching Communication Heather Hether and Associate Professor of Plant Sciences Li Tian discussed how global learning was being integrated into their classes and curriculum. 

“It’s an ongoing program,” Davis said. “There is a cohort of professors, starting right now, who go through training that Global Affairs provides to help them take their current curriculum and create more of a global focus in courses they already teach.” 

The Spoken World Story Jam was another activity that members of the UC Davis community could participate in. Hosted on Wednesday, Nov. 20, students, faculty and staff were given the chance to contemplate and comprehend what a global university actually entails. 

“[The event is] helping students process what they’re going through,” Cooper said. “‘What have I just experienced? What am I hoping to experience?’ And those who want to make these changes and solve these problems will be able to tell that in a way that’s digestible.” 

International Education Week has been ongoing for over 20 years. Davis hopes that the dialogue concerning International Education Week will continue to evolve, specifically emphasizing the ever changing global challenges.  

“You, me, all of us, no matter where, no matter what career we’re in, you’re going to end up in a community,” Davis said. “In that community, I don’t care where home ends up being, you’re going to have to face these global challenges, because they are not just in […] Africa or Asia, they’re here.” 

Written by: Aarya Gupta — campus@theaggie.org