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Thursday, October 17, 2019
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Global Citizens in Training

Emerson College International Education Week gathering

A Coffee and Conversation gathering during Emerson College's recent International Education Week. Photos by Victoria Bilcik '17

Emerson College participated in International Education Week, November 16–20, as part of a national initiative by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education for schools to prepare their students to be global citizens. Over the course of the week, students and faculty members attended movie screenings, guest lectures, and conversational forums, all of which highlighted different aspects of global citizenship. 

“We are living in an increasingly globalized, international world,” said Susannah Marcucci, program coordinator in the Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement. “It’s really important for students to get that experience on campus and to graduate with a global perspective. It doesn’t matter what the discipline is—any field requires a global perspective and I hope that students, when they leave Emerson, have that experience.”

Many students viewed International Education Week as an important part of strengthening the Emerson community through education, as the College’s students come from all over the world. The International Student Leadership Panel—Belinda Huang ’17, Hamad Al Badi ’17, Pranav Shenoy MA ’16, and Sofia Alvarado Mendoza ’18—discussed the microaggressions they have faced as students at Emerson. They said events like the ones held during International Education Week can help reduce instances of offensive or stigmatizing behavior, and empower international students to succeed.

“As international students, you constantly feel like you have to overcome obstacles, or that you constantly have to prove to yourself and to everyone that you deserve to be here, or that you deserve as many opportunities as everyone else,” Alvarado Mendoza said. “I think a lot of international students struggle seeing that and are afraid to go after things, and the reason they stop is their status as international students. I think it’s important to show people that it shouldn’t be anything to stop you, and that it shouldn’t keep you from going after what you want.”

One of the main events of the week was the Education Abroad Fair. The fair showcased every study abroad opportunity that Emerson offers, from programs that run a few weeks to entire semesters. Organizations such as the Peace Corps were at the fair as well.

Giulia Rho ’17 hosted a table informing students of Emerson’s summer program in Salzburg, Austria, where she said the students and faculty at the Salzburg program represent more than 50 countries. She said studying abroad has opened her mind to different perspectives, and she would encourage all students to take advantage of these opportunities if they are able.

“It was really great to learn from the lived experiences of the students,” she said. “I met girls from Syria who were refugees in Lebanon, for example. And now I’m reading the news and I’m feeling much more empathetic and I’m actually using that a lot in my classes here.”

Emerson College International Education Week gathering

At the Education Abroad Fair during Emerson College's International Education Week.

Coffee and Conversation, held at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, was another popular event of the week. Jeremy Heflin, ELL academic coordinator, and Kyle Rundles from Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services facilitated a discussion with students about culture shock and cultural differences. They invited international students to share stories about their culture, from personal family anecdotes to traditions in their home countries. According to Ilse Damkoehler, administrative assistant for the Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement, these conversations, and others like it that occurred throughout the week, are especially important given the “xenophobia triggered by recent world events.”

“We want to educate people about other cultures and other people so they have more open minds,” she said. “The recent events are horrible, obviously, but it’s very timely that we had International Education Week this week, showing the politics of the world but also showing people that if we come together and accept people, maybe we can change things.”

The week concluded with the 8th annual International Media Education Summit, sponsored by the Department of Marketing Communication. The summit, which took place November 20 and 21, united educators in media and communications from all over the world to share ideas about how to best educate students to be global citizens. The summit featured keynote speakers, networking opportunities, and research presentations.