It says in the first line of Rollins’ mission statement that one of the college’s ultimate goals is international awareness. “Rollins College educates students for global citizenship and responsible leadership, empowering graduates to pursue meaningful lives and productive careers,” it says. This aim was definitely met when the offices of International Student and Scholar Services, International Programs, Multicultural Affairs and Career Services collaborated to bring International Education Week (IEW) to Rollins’ campus. IEW is a national opportunity to celebrate international education and to increase diversity worldwide. Jenifer Leon, director of International Students and Scholar Services, explained the origins of IEW. “This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of the efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States,” she said.
To celebrate IEW, Rollins combined old events that have become traditions over the years with new activities. For the fifth year in a row, the International Photo Contest continued. This contest allows students and faculty to submit pictures of their international experiences into the competition. Also returning for its fifth year was the annual CultureFest, where the community enjoyed representations of other countries through entertainment. Several Rollins students performed at CultureFest: Chelsea Appel ’13 performed a French opera, Zana Fejzic ’11 showcased two South Pacific dance pieces and Rollins Dancers did a hip-hop routine. CultureFest also encouraged the various cultural organizations on campus to set up tables so that their fellow classmates could learn more about individual cultures, and Georgi Georgiev ’10 organized a Rollins World Cup Tournament.
As for new ideas brought to IEW this year, Leon and her office distributed buttons displaying the flags of countries around the world to the students, allowing them to either represent their heritage or to show their support of a heritage to which feel a strong connection. “It was truly a point of pride for all to have a way to display their heritage and to witness the diversity among us,” Leon said.
Other new programs brought to campus this year included the information session on graduate programs in international affairs, a panel discussion on international service learning projects, and a dinner hosting Chinese conversation and culture. The dinner brought together Chinese students and Chinese language classes, as well as members of the Timber Creek High School Chinese Club.
Leon and everyone else involved with planning IEW are pleased with the overall success all the week’s initiatives. Each activity was chosen carefully so that the week would be celebrated appropriately, and overall the enthusiastic response from the Rollins community bodes well for future international celebrations. “The events served to educate the campus about many different cultures represented by our international student population, to inform our students of opportunities for graduate studies in international affairs, to proudly celebrate the diversity of our community, and to share our experiences in doing service learning in an international setting,” concluded Leon. Everyone is already looking forward to what the Office of International Student and Scholar Services will have to offer in the future!