The IC International Club will host a weeklong schedule of festivities from Oct. 20–24 to help students learn about cultures and traditions from around the world.
International Education Week, which is celebrated Nov. 17–21 worldwide, is a national joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote international experiences and exchanges, according to the U.S. Department of State’s website.
Diana Dimitrova, director of international student services in the Office of International Programs, said because the week of Nov. 17 is dedicated to final exams and Thanksgiving break for students, the ICIC will celebrate IEW early to attract more participants in the festival of events.
“Usually our biggest events tend to be toward the end of the festival and nobody’s around or they’re busy,” Dimitrova said. “That’s why we celebrate the spirit of this national and international initiative during a more practical date for us.”
Nilshika Weerasinghe, president of the ICIC, said events during the week will include a guest speaker who will discuss cultural appropriation; a dance workshop, where students will learn Latin-American style dances; an Indian Festival of Lights celebration in honor of the Indian holiday Diwali; and a final concert with acts representing diverse cultures and international backgrounds.
Nicole Ang, event manager for the ICIC, said the ICIC has been planning IEW and its weeklong list of activities and events since last month.
She said the first event, which is called “Around the World in 60 Minutes,” will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 in Klingenstein Lounge. She said the event is an exhibition that allows international students to represent their countries and speak one-on-one with visitors about their cultures and backgrounds.
“You’re hearing it from people who are there,” she said. “There’s nothing like meeting someone from that country. It’s a great opportunity for others to learn firsthand about the country, the language [and] food.”
Weerasinghe said the guest speaker, Sherry Deckman, assistant professor in the Department of Education, will speak about contemporary cultural appropriation at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 in Klingenstein Lounge in an event titled “When Imitation is Not Appreciation: Making Sense of Cultural Appropriation in the Global Era.”
Ang said the upcoming presentation from the guest speaker will provide an educational aspect for non-international students.
“It’s educational, but we’re not really going to teach anyone if we’re just keeping it between international kids because we interact with each other more anyway,” Ang said. “We try to educate, but we also want to celebrate because that’s what [IEW] is.”
Dimitrova said this year, ICIC is collaborating with other multicultural campus organizations to allow for more communication between students with different international experiences.
“We are trying to co-coordinate and work together with other international-themed groups, and those will feature quite a significant membership in people with different levels of international experience, including study abroad,” Dimitrova said.
Weerasinghe said she expects the collaborations with other multicultural groups will increase attendance and audience participation at the events.
For example, she said, the Latin dance workshop held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22 in Klingenstein Lounge is in collaboration with the Latino student organization PODER rather than with the African Students Association, with whom they collaborated with last year. She said the collaboration will provide the student community with the opportunity to learn more than one type of dance.
Ang said this year’s IEW will also include a Light It Up festival at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 in Clark Lounge, organized in collaboration with the South Asian Students Association, where attendees can decorate lanterns and receive henna tattoos in celebration of Diwali, an Indian holiday meaning the “festival of lights,” on Oct. 23.
“We’re collaborating with the South Asian Students Association to merge our groups and the cultures because it’s a big thing for them, and they’re going to know more about it,” Ang said. “You have a whole bunch of other countries [that are] unique in their own ways, and how they celebrate Diwali differs across countries, but there’s also this unifying meter.”
Dimitrova said throughout IEW, there will be a photo exhibit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day to display images of the places international students come from and to showcase their homelands.
Ang said the photo exhibit will be held right outside Emerson Suites in the North Foyer of the Campus Center.
The biggest highlight of the week, Ang said, is the One World Concert that will take place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 24, the last day of IEW, in Emerson Suites.
Ang said the concert, which is always held on the last day of the week, includes performances from both Ithaca College and Cornell University. She said the acts are either performed by on-campus music groups or by international students.
Weerasinghe said IEW is the biggest event of the semester for the ICIC, and it is a celebration of the diversity on campus.
“It’s an opportunity for domestic students to learn about different cultures, and it’s an opportunity for international students to share their culture with others,” she said.