Bringing the world to you: Students present their cultures during International Education Week

International students are showcasing their home countries to students at the University of South Dakota for International Education Week.

One of many events scheduled during the week of Nov. 18 through Nov. 22 is Global Palate.

The event will feature a free sampling of international cuisine from Asia, the Mediterranean, the Americas and France.

“We are almost bringing the world to you,” said Ling Zhang, director of the Center for International Programs and Events.

The first 50 students participating in Thursday’s Global Palate dinner will receive a free ticket to the opening night performance of “Les Miserables” Thursday.

The event will also feature students talking about the musical and a Chinese music performance.

Tickets can be picked up for free in the Muenster University Center before Thursday.

The university is also putting on an International Fishbowl Discussion Wednesday in the MUC Ballroom to discuss how minorities on campus are integrated socially and academically.

Friday during lunch in the MUC pit lounge there will be Caribbean steel drum music, snacks and mocktails. At 6 p.m., students can participate in international games at the USD Wellness Center.

The MUC is decorated with flags from countries around the world.

Earlier this week, international students participated in a cultural fair to showcase different countries represented at USD. The booths featured international students in traditional clothing, music and food.

Claudia Biswas, a graduate student from Bangladesh, presented with other international students from her country.

“We are trying to show our culture, what kind of dress we wear, our currency and some history,” Biswas said. “It was a new experience for them.”

There was also a showing of the movie “Crossing Borders.” The documentary focuses on four American and four Moroccan students traveling together through Morocco.

“The goal for the week is twofold,” Eric Leise, assistant director for global learning at the Center for Academic Engagement said.

“It is both to encourage them to study abroad and for students to learn about the diversity on campus and the opportunities diversity allows for,” Leise said.

Lufei Zhang, a first-year from China, was one of many students showing their countries to the domestic students.

China’s booth helped people learn their Chinese name and gave them a chance to learn a little of the language.

“Nowadays, a lot of Chinese students study in America,” Lufei Zhang said.

She hopes students can learn about opportunities to do the study abroad program and consider her country.

“Americans should go to China,” Lufei Zhang said.

The week is sponsored by the Center for Academic Engagement, the office of the provost, the Center for Continuing Education, the graduate school and a new addition to USD, the Center for International Programs and Events.

The new division of the university is meant to enhance the experience for international students, Ling Zhang said.

“I always call my division a home away from home,” Ling Zhang said. “My office is a home away from home. If (international students) have a problem or situation or a question, they come to my office.”

Ling Zhang said they provide trips to the international students to areas such as the Black Hills and Minnesota. The division also will drive students to the airport and make regular trips to Walmart.

She said the department works on other aspects of adjusting to not just American life, but also South Dakota life.

“We have some students who have never seen snow,” Ling Zhang said.

The department will also host international Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the students.

For some students, the transition to the United States brings about major changes.

“America is more free,” Lufei Zhang said.

International Education Week is a national, joint initiative between the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education.

It is designed to promote universities’ programs to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study in the United States.

Leise recommends students spend a few minutes stopping by the events to learn more about different cultures.

He said students could also learn about USD’s study abroad programs.

At the Global Palate, domestic students will be able to interact with international students to learn about their countries if they are interested in traveling abroad.

Students who have previously traveled abroad may also be able to meet student from the counties they traveled in.

“We deliver this culture, this diversity to you. Take advantage of that and participate,” Ling Zhang said.

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