Intercultural Learning, Study Abroad Celebrated during International Education Week

italian game night

Students participated in Italian Game Night during International Education Week activities. (Photo by Willow Saxon ’24)

Members of the campus community played Italian Tombola Bingo, ate Spanish Polvoróns, learned how to pronounce their names in Chinese, savored snacks from South Korea, danced to Afrobeats, and learned about study abroad opportunities all during Wesleyan’s annual International Education Week (IEW) celebration.

“International Education Week is a dedicated time for students, faculty, and staff to recognize the many ways in which we can engage meaningfully in intercultural learning and understanding at Wesleyan,” said Hannah Parten, assistant director, study abroad, for the Fries Center for Global Studies. “The 2021 event focused specifically on ways to emerge from the pandemic with a greater sense of interconnectedness, self-awareness, and empathy.”

IEW, held Nov. 13-19, was celebrated through a series of more than 20 globally-focused events. The PINOY Club—a group of Filipinos, Filipino-Americans, and Filipino-culture enthusiasts—offered a sampling of Filipino dishes; the African Student Association hosted an Afrobeats Dance Class showcasing fun and energetic moves from all over Africa; the Office of Study Abroad held an interactive session about the benefits of studying in another country; and the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship offered a virtual session on ways to take action on social and environmental issues through grassroots organizing, activism, fundraising, and more.

Participants also were treated to an Italian Game Night, Chinese Name Pronunciation Workshop, and a screening of the Greek box-office hit “A Touch of Spice” and the Indian Hindi-language comedy “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.”

International Education Week concluded with a Wes Stories— a multilingual event showcasing talented students on campus through songs, spoken stories, dances, speeches, and other creative performances, and an International Festival of Games, hosted by the Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs).

In addition to activities, IEW provided the Fries Center for Global Studies an opportunity to celebrate the return to study-abroad programs, which were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although some countries still have travel restrictions, 30 students are currently studying abroad this fall in countries such as Spain, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

According to Emily Gorlewski, director of study abroad, 152 students have already applied for spring semester study abroad programs.

“(After the pandemic), there was a lot of initial interest,” she said. “We normally have about 100 in the spring. However, there has been much more attention than usual.”

In a “normal” academic year, Wesleyan sends about 325 students abroad. Students travel to programs on six continents, in all different countries.

“Going abroad changes your perspective in so many different ways, and this is the only time in your life you will be able to participate in this kind of experience,” Gorlewski said. “There are lots of opportunities on campus to learn about the world and other cultures, but studying abroad is a unique opportunity.”

Study abroad also allows students to engage with and learn from the world and its cultures. “A meaningful cross-cultural experience sharpens our understanding of ourselves in relation to the world in which we live,” Parten added.

IEW is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. It aims to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences. Wesleyan’s first organization of IEW was in 2017, one year after the Fries Center for Global Studies (FCGS) was formed.

“Every fall Wesleyan’s IEW committee convenes to discuss our goals for the year and remind ourselves of our ‘why,'” Parten said.

Photos of various 2021 International Education Week activities are below:

The Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) and International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) hosted an open house and meet and greet. 

The Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) and International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) hosted an open house and meet and greet.

The African Student Association and Fries Center for Global Studies hosted an Afrobeats Dance Class at the Malcolm X House. 

The African Student Association and Fries Center for Global Studies hosted an Afrobeats Dance Class at the Malcolm X House.

Several study abroad alumni led a discussion titled "From Ghana to Middletown: Maximizing Your Study Abroad Experience Overseas and Back Home." 

Four study abroad alumni led a discussion titled “From Ghana to Middletown: Maximizing Your Study Abroad Experience Overseas and Back Home.”

During an "Opportunities Abroad" discussion, Wesleyan faculty learned about opportunities for travel and work in countries around the world. The session, which included information on faculty exchanges and Fulbrights, was hosted by the Fries Center for Global Studies, Office of Career and Faculty Development, and Office of Corporate, Foundation, and Government Grants

During an “Opportunities Abroad” discussion, Wesleyan faculty learned about opportunities for travel and work in countries around the world. The session, which included information on faculty exchanges and Fulbrights, was hosted by the Fries Center for Global Studies, Office of Career and Faculty Development, and Office of Corporate, Foundation, and Government Grants.