International Education Week Celebrates Diversity at A&M-Corpus Christi

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Despite the lingering chill in the November air, hearts were warm as Islanders gathered together in the University Center to kick off International Education Week (Nov. 12-16) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. At the celebration, the delicious aroma of food from India, Jamaica, Brazil and more was accompanied by the sound of cheerful chatter as the campus community celebrated international students.

Along with food from around the world, the kickoff event included crafts, presentations from University administration, music, and other displays of culture celebrating the impact and importance of international students on the Island campus. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi currently has 513 international students representing 52 countries.

“The number of international students present at A&M-Corpus Christi makes a significant contribution to the internationalization and personality of the university,” said Derek Yu, director of the Office of International Education. “The domestic students who actively interact with them are not only learning about different cultures but also enhancing their own self-confidence, leadership, professional skills, and other abilities. The importance of international student presence at A&M-Corpus Christi cannot be underscored.”

On day two of International Education Week, Islanders gathered in the University Center Rotunda for music, dancing, and performances from various countries. One performer, Lien Doan, senior nursing major, sang a song dedicated to her home country of Vietnam.

“America is a multi-racial country, so I think it is good for us to show where we’re from and who we are,” said Doan. “This week is a great way for us to express ourselves and introduce our countries to each other.”

Later in the week, the Vietnamese Student Association held a Vietnamese Culture Fest that captivated students with food, dancing, cultural showcases, and live performances. Event goers could also participate in traditional Vietnamese games, such as rock catching, bamboo jacks, and village squares.

“We believe that Vietnamese culture – and Asian culture in general – is very beautiful and colorful,” said Cao Nguyen, Master of Business Administration student and president of the Vietnamese Student Association. “We want to share a little bit of our culture and that we appreciate the diversity on this campus.”

Islanders also participated in academic discussion of international culture at an international symposium featuring Dr. Zobaida Nasreen, Fulbright scholar from Bangladesh, who presented “International Education and the Power of Cross-Cultural Journey.” Immediately following the presentation was a panel discussion where Islander alumni discussed how international students can have a successful career, as well the challenges they may face while studying in the United States.

“While speaking a second language helps you, it’s not everything,” said Nasreen. “Often we forget that there is immense cultural diversity within our own borders. History is important when learning about a culture because it also gives us an authentic sense of place, time and community.”

The latter-half of International Education Week held even more offerings for inquisitive Islanders. Dr. Ari Sherris, former Fulbright scholar from Texas A&M University-Kingsville, was invited to speak on “Safaliba community activism, Safaliba language power: Safeleba Bolo Faŋŋa!” Also, students were invited to screen the internationally acclaimed film, “Pelé, Birth of a Legend,” which follows the story of Pelé’s meteoric rise from the slums of Brazil to leading his country to its first World Cup victory.

International Education Week is a collaborative initiative of the United States’ Department of State and the Department of Education as part of an effort to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.