Island University Celebrates International Education as the Key to Growth

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is home to nearly 12,000 students, serving a diverse population from 57 countries. To honor International Education Week (IEW), Nov. 18-21, the Office of International Education at the Island University invited the campus community to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.

“International Education Week is a celebration of one of the things that is right in the world. It is a highlight of those who chose to cross boundaries so we can share information and learn from one another,” said Dr. Clarenda Phillips, Texas A&M-University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Through connection with others, we can gain the ability to create solutions to our world’s problems.”

IEW began its weeklong festivities with a kickoff event. Sampling flavors from across the globe, the campus community connected with the diverse cultures at A&M-Corpus Christi. Nine exhibition booths represented Peru, Taiwan, Colombia, Vietnam, Morocco, India, China, and Azerbaijan, along with Islander Cultural Alliance.

“We have many students from different backgrounds, cultures, and histories who come to the Island University to study, achieve a degree, and become better people,” said Duy Tran, a senior communications student from Vietnam.

Islanders also gave presentations on Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Trinidad and Tobago. The event culminated with a fashion show featuring 20 students and clothing styles from Vietnam, India, Nigeria, Morocco, Pakistan, and China. 

The second day of IEW featured a Fulbright Outreach Lecture with guest speaker Dr. Lorena Ojeda-Dávila, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo tenured faculty member and Fulbright Mexican Studies Chair at the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico. Ojeda-Dávila spoke on the importance of developing cross-cultural skills through her presentation on the historical and contemporary experiences of Mexico and United States cultural education.

More than 200 students, faculty, and staff attended Xin Chao Viet Nam, presented by the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA). At the cultural festival, visitors played traditional games like bamboo jacks, Village Squares, bamboo dancing, and rock catching; attendees also enjoyed a delicious lunch that consisted of fried rice, stir-fried vegetables, a spring roll with shrimp, and Vietnamese sweet corn pudding for dessert. The event concluded with a series of cultural showcases, including several dance presentations.  



In her remarks to the audience, Dr. Amy Aldridge Sanford, Associate Provost and Professor of Communication, said Vietnamese students make up the third-largest student group by nation on campus after India and the United States. She praised the VSA for independently organizing the event, which is now in its second year.

At Friendsgiving, 280 Islanders filled the University Center rotunda to enjoy a traditional American Thanksgiving meal featuring turkey and a variety of sides and dessert options. The event also featured numerous activities, including a “Why I am Thankful” wall (right). University Center Program Coordinator Alissa Ramirez said the event featured support from the Campus Activities Board, the Student Volunteer Connection, the Student Government Association, and I-TEAM.  

“Friendsgiving is an opportunity for the campus community to come together to celebrate the holidays, especially those students who may not have a chance to go back home for the holidays,” Ramirez said.

Former International Student Organization President Cristiane BorgesQuadros has attended two Friendsgiving events as a Master of Public Administration student. She said she is glad to have the opportunity to experience Thanksgiving as there is no such event in her native Brazil.

“As an international student, the Thanksgiving holiday is very different for me–we don’t have a holiday like that in Brazil,” BorgesQuadros said. “I think the idea behind Thanksgiving of gratitude to your loved ones, to someone who made or makes a difference to you and to see the good things you have in life as blessings brings a beautiful meaning to it.”    

IEW ended with a study abroad fair, a faculty led workshop, and a panel discussion with successful international alumni. This was the first study abroad fair for TAMU-CC in recent years, according to organizers. The fair allowed students, staff, and faculty to meet with faculty-led program leaders, study abroad alumni, current exchange students, and affiliate study abroad partner programs. Students were also able to learn about different international opportunities from studying to interning and researching abroad.

During the discussion, one of the panelists, Dr. Ahmed Mahdy, spoke about his journey as an international student and the importance of diversity.

“Diversity drives innovation,” said Mahdy, Vice President for Research and Innovation. “The United States is the ideal melting pot that brings out the best in us. When we come from different backgrounds, we see things from new angles and perspectives. This is something that I think we need to appreciate more.”