GEO celebrates cultural diversity with International Education Week

By Heather Fabritze
Elm Staff Writer

From Nov. 15 to Nov. 19, the Washington College Global Education Office celebrated their International Education Week with various events promoting international awareness.

The week, which is hosted annually in higher education institutions across the world, celebrates the importance of exchange programs and international education. According to GEO workers, it is designed to encourage students to research study abroad programs available to them through their schools.

The celebration started with Chalk the Cater Walk on Monday, Nov. 15, where international WC students could draw their country flags or write words in their own languages onto the Cater Walk.

On Tuesday, the GEO hosted “TED Talks” at 7 p.m. in the Hodson Egg. Exchange students presented slideshows about what life is like at their home institutions and how it differs from their lives at WC.

It also provided opportunities for questions from students interested in study abroad programs.

While freshman and exchange student from Greece and the country of Georgia Maria Karavasilis was not one of the “TED Talk” presenters, she felt that the entire week allows international students to present their own countries from their own perspectives.

“I get to introduce my country, which is less known to more people, and I get to show them traditions and the values that I identify with and that make me who I am,” Karavasilis said. “I think that International Education Week can widen the global perspective of a lot of students, since they get to know about our countries from our own perspective, like from a firsthand storyteller.”

The next event in the week’s schedule, the World Culture Festival, was on Thursday, Nov. 18 in the Goose Nest. It lasted from 7 to 9 p.m. and included a variety of international desserts which students baked, as well as music, games, and more.

Senior Ricardo Pereira Teixeira found the festival to be his personal favorite part of the week, primarily due to his love for sharing foods from his home country of Peru, a country where cooking “unites people.”

This year, he baked a Peruvian dessert called picarones, which are roughly the equivalent of Peruvian doughnuts.

“I particularly enjoyed the fact that we were giving a window to shine our light,” Pereira Teixeira said. “Because in my own experience, I really do get excited when I get to represent my own country or parts of my life.”

The celebrations finished with a Coffee Hour event on Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. in Foster House. The GEO staff took Polaroid photos of international students and placed their pictures on a map to represent where they live or have lived in the past.

Junior and GEO Student Worker Daria Shirokova feels that this event, as well as the rest of the week, showcases that Chestertown has “people from all over the world” with experiences to learn from.

“I think it’s just a great opportunity to learn more about, not only students themselves and their cultures, but also how education is different in different cultures or in different countries,” Shirokova said. “And how you can enrich your own knowledge by interacting with each other.”

Much like other students, International Education Week was “completely new” to Pereira Teixeira, but he grew to love it over the course of the week.

“It’s amazing that universities celebrate their international students like that…they have different ways of celebrating their internationals over there,” Pereira Teixeira said. “Here, it feels like a party. Like, genuinely, people are really happy…to have diversity. Just really welcoming, really empowering, as well.”

Shirokova, Karavasilis, and Pereira Teixeira encourage any students interested in learning more about study abroad programs or international cultures to reach out to the GEO.

Photo by Kayla Thornton
Featured Photo caption: Senior Guillaume Banton serving crêpes, a French delicacy consisting of thin pancakes that can be filled with fruits, chocolate, or other savory toppings, to junior Denisse Maldonado at the World Culture Festival.

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