The Institute for International Studies recently hosted International Education Week, a nationwide event, which includes a series of events for educating students, faculty and staff about different cultures.
IIS and members of the International Student Organization presented the International Bazaar, the premier event for International Education Week, Wednesday.
Local elementary, middle and high school students attended the International Bazaar. International students set up tables representing their countries and performed dances and other demonstrations special to their nationalities.
Jessica Mou, ESL student from Qingdao, China, greeted students in a traditional Qipaw (Chinese dress) and showed them how to write their names in Chinese.
“I like this kind of activity,” Mou said. “Some of (the younger students) have interesting questions. A lot of students were interested in the leader of our government.”
Aiman Alrawahi, freshman from Muscat, Alain, showed students pictures from his home country and told them about some of the traditions there.
“It’s peaceful and people there like to help each other,” Alrawahi said.
Ladonna McCuan, associate director for International Studies, was in charge of International Education Week this year.
McCuan said it’s a team effort to put the events together.
“There is a great deal of support for international studies and IEW here on campus from administration,” she said.
She said she hopes the International Bazaar will spark some interest in children and make them want to connect with the rest of the world.
“Kids don’t realize there is a difference in cultures,” she said. “Hopefully this will help answer their curiosity and make them see the world is one place.”
McCuan said Murray State has one of the largest populations of international students in Kentucky.
“We have almost 700 international students on campus right now,” she said.
Colleen Qu, vice president of ISO, said International Education Week broadens students’ knowledge of the world.
“It’s quite important because it has arranged a centralized time to give out information so that people know,” Qu said. “If nobody arranged that people wouldn’t attempt to know what was going on.”
The week officially began in the late ‘90s, Melanie McCallon, associate director for education abroad, said. It was sanctioned by the U.S. State Department under former President Bill Clinton.
She said the events help encourage students to educate themselves about foreign cultures.
“Here we are in Murray, Ky.,” McCallon said. “We are land-locked; there is not an international airport. There is great potential here to be close-minded. There is a great potential to have lack of exposures. That close-mindedness comes from lack of exposure. This is exposure.”
Word of mouth helped to expand International Education Week at Murray State, McCallon said.
“I thought of people who have taught abroad and studied abroad and pulled those people together to get ideas,” she said. “We got faculty and students involved and that’s how it grew.”
She said many international students performed at the International Bazaar and educated kids about their cultures.
“We are going to have a lot kids come to Murray State and see the performances of every country and have workshops and guest speakers,” she said.