University begins International Education Week event planning

One year ago, Morgan Huston, junior from Murray, was in Germany.

Specifically, she was living in Regensburg, a small city in the German state of Bavaria.

Huston spent the fall semester of her sophomore year studying abroad in Germany with six other women from Murray State. Huston said she learned about who she is while she was abroad. She learned about the world, that she is strong and capable and that she can adapt.

“Before I studied abroad, the world was big and scary and seemed completely out of my reach,” she said.

Now, almost a year after she returned to the U.S., Huston is helping other students at Murray State come to the same conclusion she did – the world is absolutely within reach.

Next week, students, faculty and staff of Murray State have the opportunity to experience the world. International Education Week begins Monday with informative and hands-on ways to engage and learn about global cultures.

Melanie McCallon Seib, director of Education Abroad, said Murray State began celebrating International Education Week in 2001. While most Kentucky universities play host to a guest speaker or two, McCallon Seib described International Education Week at Murray State as a “mini conference.”

This year’s week-long event in the Curris Center features travel posters and hands-on sessions such as Chinese calligraphy and indigo dyeing. There will also be informative sessions, such as a comparison of the American and Chinese education systems, music as a global language and how one student’s study abroad experience inspired him to work for Amnesty International.

This year’s theme for International Education Week is “Understand One Another: A Global Endeavor.”  McCallon Seib said the goal for the Education Abroad Office is to shift the campus perspective about international students and about the world.

“We want to get the 96 percent of campus that doesn’t get on a plane, we want to get them a different cultural perspective,” she said. “We want to educate them.”

Students who happen to be in the Curris Center Wednesday will gain a new perspective at the International Bazaar.

  From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., students from more than 40 countries will show off clothes, dances, food, music, art and more from their respective homes.

McCallon Seib said many international students participate in putting on the event and local schools even bus students to campus to experience the bazaar.

   Another large International Education Week event is the Global Alumni Distinguished Lecture Series. Katie Payne, associate director of Alumni Affairs, planned the lecture series.

   Payne said she is excited about this year’s speakers: Col. Lucretia McClenney, alum of the School of Nursing who spent 30 years in the Army, journalism alum and novelist Kristie Helms and Sonja Martinez, who earned her MBA at Murray State and spent years managing the Christkindlmarket in Chicago.

Payne said she wants students to hear what they can do after graduating from Murray State and how they can see the world.

“The overall purpose is to speak about global experiences across all majors,” she said.

Payne said the unique experience of Murray State’s International Education Week serves to make everyone who attends more well rounded. She said there is something new to learn in every session.

For McCallon Seib, seeing students learn is what makes her organize International Education Week each year.

“The reason we keep doing it, even though it takes so much effort and so much time, is because not everyone is going to get on a plane,” she said. “Even if a student only comes to a session for extra credit, they might accidentally learn something.”

For Huston, using what she has learned in her travels to help other students is important. This semester she has worked as a study abroad mentor and will host a world trivia night Tuesday.

Huston said she hopes the events next week will stir a hunger for travel in students who didn’t previously have an interest.

“International Education Week benefits students by giving those without the opportunity to travel a glimpse of what is out there,” she said.

“That is why I think IEW is important.”

Story by Kate Russell, Staff writer