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Why International Education Week Is Your Time To Shine

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By Author: anita
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Why International Education Week is your time to shine

IEW & YOU

IEW means “International Education Week”. As a current or former study abroad participant, you’ve absorbed an incredible amount of cultural information in a short period of time. You know more than anyone what a monumental experience this has been. And yet, you might not realize how uniquely qualified this makes you to educate and inspire others.

International Education Week (IEW) is about inspiration. Specifically, it's about inspiring people to: look beyond their own neighborhoods; understand their places in the international community; learn about new lifestyles; and celebrate their own by teaching others about their customs and cultures. In short, IEW inspires people to do what you, as an exchange student, have already done.

That means that this week is your week to take charge. We’re all hoping that you, the cultural aficionado, will take the reins and show us how intercultural learning is done – rise to the task of helping others rise to your level of cultural understanding. After all, YOU have the international experience and YOU have the cultural insight.

Hopefully, you’ve also got the time to participate through these fun and easy activities…

FOR STUDENTS CURRENTLY STUDYING ABROAD

If you’re currently abroad, you know exactly what it’s like to be presented with new cultural information…

All. Of. The. Time.

Now it’s YOUR turn to be the presenter!

IEW is the perfect excuse to get your host community’s attention and teach them about your culture.

There are tons of interesting ways to do this, and we encourage you to be creative. But here are a few ideas to get you started:

Organize a Potluck. Feature only dishes from your home country. Choose the recipes beforehand and ask your friends and host family members to prepare them.
Cook a Traditional Meal for Your Host Family. Prepare a typical recipe from home and give your host family a taste of your native palate.
Plan a “Day in My Life.” Think about what your family back home would do on a typical Saturday and, on a chosen day, do as many of these things as possible with your host family.
Give a Cultural Presentation. Ask your teachers at your host school to set aside some time for you to formally speak to your classmates about your culture. See the Resources section below for presentation guidelines.
Whichever activity you choose, try to use your incredible insight as an exchange student to make it eye opening and memorable. For example, think back on the past several months in your host community.

What cultural discoveries made your jaw drop? And what then led you to those hugely satisfying,

“Oh…now I get why they do that!” moments? Once you have the answers, try to figure out what equivalent examples would be in your own culture and share those far and wide!

FOR STUDY ABROAD RETURNEES

When you were abroad, you acted as an ambassador for your home country, helping your host community understand its culture and values.

Now you get to play the opposite role. The fact that you’ve studied abroad in a foreign country means that, in your current setting, you’re likely the resident expert on that country. IEW is your chance to exercise these awesome credentials.

There are tons of interesting ways to do this, and we encourage creativity. But here are a few ideas to get you started:

Organize a Cultural Potluck. Feature only dishes from your host country. Choose the recipes beforehand and ask your friends and family members to prepare them.
Organize a Film Screening. Choose a film that shines light on your host country or culture.
Give a Cultural Presentation. If you’re in school, ask your teachers or professors to set aside some class time for you to teach your classmates about your host country’s culture, as well as your study abroad experience in general. See the Resources section below for presentation guidelines.
Leverage Your Experience – Volunteer Your Services. IEW is the perfect time to make your unique expertise known and appreciated by those who matter (i.e. teachers, professors, guidance counselors, colleagues, bosses). For example, you could:
o Take this opportunity to reach out to your university’s study abroad office and offer yourself as a resource for prospective study abroad participants. Perhaps there’s a job or resume building opportunity there?

o Offer to tutor colleagues or fellow students in the language you mastered while abroad. This could both generate income and highlight your impressive foreign language ability.

o Propose a new idea to your boss that relates to your host country or culture. If well received, the new venture could be your opportunity to stand out and take charge in the workplace.

Enter the UN Essay Contest. Make IEW the week you dust of your foreign language skills and complete a submission for the United Nations& Many Languages One World essay contest. Write 2,000 words in a foreign language on the topic of, "How multilingual ability advances global citizenship," and you could be invited to present your work at the UN Headquarters in New York this June.
Whatever you do, remember that this is your time to shine. For most of the year, you likely feel deprived of opportunities to convey the significance of your time abroad. Friends and family members may put up with a story or two, but they're rarely willing to delve into the details. Mercifully, IEW is a different story. It’s basically Christmas for under-heard study abroad alumni. So go ahead, make it merry!

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