International Education Week events highlight other cultures

Photo+courtesy+Mary+Hulst

Photo courtesy Mary Hulst

Last week, Calvin participated International Education Week, a nationally recognized week implemented by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. Over the week, students organized and put on various events, like an international worship night and the craft and food fair.

In place of a usual LOFT service last Sunday night, 700-800 students gathered in the CFAC to pray, listen and sing together in different languages as part of International Worship Night. Students representing a multiplicity of nationalities at Calvin took part in leading the service.

“It was great to start the week off by worshiping our great God who created this world with all its cultural diversity,”said Linda Bosch, assistant dean of international student development.

Students, such as sophomore Bethany Rylander, considered the service a success. Rylander said she “loved singing ‘How Great is Our God’ in eight different languages,” and how it reminded her that “God is not bound by language, as we so often are.”

“No matter what language or culture you grew up with, we are all connected because we worship the same God, and he hears us when we worship in all our different native tongues,” echoed sophomore Natasha Kwik.

From 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, students hosted an international craft and food fair in their dorm lobbies. Each dorm set up decorations, food and crafts themed around a certain country. Some of the countries represented were France, Korea, India and Indonesia.

Students offered henna, hair braiding, calligraphy and paper designing as well as international foods and boba tea. Some faculty also brought their children to the event, and they were particularly interested in the crafts.

Another event hosted on campus was a faculty workshop where a panel of five international students were interviewed about challenges and differences they find themselves facing here in the U.S.

In the Fish House, there was a storytelling night where both American and international students and faculty shared funny and somber stories from their experiences living in different cultures.

According to students, International Education Week is important to the campus.

“I think a lot of people here are extremely ignorant about other cultures. The activities give them a glimpse of what other cultures are like,” said Kwik.

President of International Student Association Committee (ISAC), junior Yoo Lim Song felt that “Calvin’s campus was getting more aware of students from international backgrounds, understanding their context, their lifestyle and their stories that they are bringing into this community.”

“I think a lot of people think about the USA 24/7. It is good to bring into the spotlight other cultures,” said sophomore Heidi Boeve. “I also think it is a way for Calvin to support some international students. It gives them a chance to show their student body where they come from and what they love about their homeland. I am proud to be a part of a college that expands its walls to others.”