By DAVID CONCEPCION
A dining hall full of tasty international cuisine, an epic race and meetings and fairs filled to the brim with information about the University of Mary Washington’s study abroad program seems like a lot to pack into one event.
This is why the Center for International Education has dedicated an entire week to celebrating and getting the word out about study abroad programs.
International Education Week, organized by the Center for International Education, is a week- long series of events meant to educate and encourage Mary Washington students to pursue study abroad programs. The week will feature globally-themed events from Sept.13 to19.
International Education Week’s events give students the chance to talk to international students and students who have experienced the study-abroad programs at UMW and it provides a glimpse of foreign cultures through music and cuisine.
“The main idea is to internationalize our campus and to bring a little taste of the whole wide world to UMW,” said Kate Jordan, faculty-led program coordinator at the Center for International Education. “We have a robust population of international students and exchange students as well as study-abroad alumni who are excited about their experiences in other countries.”
The week kicked off on Sunday with a gathering at 5 p.m. at the Center for Faith and Leadership.
The “International Community Gathering” gave students the opportunity to interact with each other and share stories about traveling internationally. The Center for Faith and Leadership, UMW World, ELS Educational Services and the Framar International Living Center sponsored this event.
Monday featured the “Amazing Race,” which started in Ball Circle. The event is based on the CBS show with the same name. Teams of four underwent obstacles testing their international knowledge, and the winners received $200 in EagleOne money.
Some of the challenges, according to Jordan, included “learning a Bollywood Dance, placing countries on a map, writing Chinese characters, eating international food and an international trivia challenge.”
On Tuesday, an information session introduced students to the process of studying abroad and gave students the chance to determine where they wanted to study. The session, called “Study Abroad 101,” took place in the Center for International Education office in Lee 434 from 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesday marked the International Education Week’s midpoint in style with its “Global Café.”
Students were able to try a variety of multicultural foods and talk to other study abroad alumni about their global experiences. The feast took place at the University Center 4th floor buffets at 5 p.m. This was the first time the event was held in the University Center, as it was held in Seacobeck Hall in previous years.
“Anyone who is considering going abroad absolutely should. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Only when you have left your country and have lived among people whose culture differs from yours can you truly learn about your own culture,” said Girard Bucello, an International Affairs major and senior who studied abroad in both France and Switzerland.
On Thursday, the Center for International Education and Academic Career Services will have a Peace Corps interest meeting. The Peace Corps is a popular option for UMW students following graduation, as it ranked UMW consistently on its list of top-producing small colleges in the United States since 2005.
“UMW’s ethos is compatible with Peace Corp,” Jordan said. “We have a really strong service ethic here on campus, and because of that, it really makes sense that people are interested in continued service after graduation and in an international setting is an exciting way to do that.”
The Education Abroad Fair, which coincides with Family Weekend on Saturday, will be the final event. The fair will run 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411. Faculty-led program directors, representatives from UMW-approved international institutions and education abroad programs, peer advisors, study abroad alumni and Center for International Education staff will be at the event to give those interested in studying abroad a chance to explore the many opportunities students have in studying abroad.
The fair will also provide an opportunity for students and parents to address any issues about studying abroad, such as costs.
Anna Dofflemeyer, a senior and an English and education major, did not study abroad, citing, “financial reasons and not being able to finish on time” as reasons that she was unable to study abroad during her four years. To which Jordan gives hope for students facing financial issues by stressing that numerous financial aid and scholarship programs are available for students who want to study abroad.”
“The cool thing is that in the last three years we have given away a really significant amount of money and financial aid for study abroad,” Jordan said. “$207,000 is how much we have given away in scholarships in the last three years incentivizing that part of things.”
For students who have schedule conflicts, Jordan cited various opportunities outside of the Fall and Spring semesters to travel abroad.
“We offer a wide variety of programs summer abroad, spring break abroad, and winter programs.” Chile, Guatemala, Thailand, England and Wales will be among the faculty-led destinations students can take advantage of during winter, spring and summer short-term and semester-long trips.
This will be the fourth International Education Week UMW has organized.