Last week, Samford University joined schools across the world in celebrating International Education Week. From Nov. 15-19, the university held events highlighting a variety of different cultures, as well as the benefits of international education and cultural exchange.
Among the week’s plethora of activities and events were cultural education opportunities such as rounds of Bocce Ball, a game often played in places like Spain, France, Germany, and Italy. Students also had the opportunity to experience traditional Korean candy making and games, some of which were recently featured, albeit in a far more deadly form, on the popular Netflix series “Squid Game.”
A few campus organizations held trivia nights, like Latino Student Organization’s Jeopardy-based music trivia night, and the Global Engagement Center’s Kahoot-powered trivia night in the Caf.
There were several international film showings, including “Joyeux Noel” (French for “Merry Christmas”) a film based on the famous WW1 Christmas ceasefire, and “The Intouchables,” a French film about an ex-con and his unlikely friendship with a disabled aristocrat he’s hired to look after.
Other events included meetings focused on study abroad opportunities, panels discussing various topics related to international and cultural experiences and the recognition of Samford’s international student athletes at Wednesday night’s Women’s Basketball game. Additionally, faculty workshops were held to help professors with course development for classes taught abroad, and there was a Thanksgiving dinner held by the International Club and Multicultural Affairs Committee.
Many of the people and organizations running these fun events and activities this week expressed a desire to grow, and for more people to join and become involved. Others spoke about their desire for people to experience cultures and traditions they normally wouldn’t. After the pandemic halted so many international programs and travel plans and stalled so many on-campus clubs and organizations, there is no shortage of groups looking for people to join them and participate in their events and activities.
Sophomore Class President Miciah Collins encourages his fellow classmates to purposefully seek out these opportunities to interact with and experience cultures outside of your own.
“So many times, we think that being exposed to other cultures, beliefs and ideas somehow takes away from what we believe, or our convictions. However, that’s not the case. A lot of those experiences enhance our interactions with others rather than take away in that regard,” Collins explained.“Being in a place where there’s so much familiarity with those in which we interact with or see on an everyday basis, can cause us not to be intentional about being exposed to other cultures and other people that may not do the things that we do or that may not be similar to what we’re accustomed to.”
When trying to broaden one’s cultural horizons, Collins believes that intentionality is key.
“You have to be intentional about it. It’s one thing for posters and advertisements to go up and say ‘this event is happening’ or ‘this is going on,’ and for you to know about it, but it’s not something that interests you, so you look over it. And so that’s where that intentionality comes in, because at that point you’re saying ‘okay, here’s an opportunity for me to learn more about this. Here’s an opportunity for me to diversify my portfolio and interactions and conversations with others,’” Collins said.