Students savor the international flavor
November 29, 2007 9:42 AM
The aroma of himbasha bread and samosas from Eritrea, the tang of honey biscuits from an ancient Roman recipe, and whiffs of Japanese curry drew hundreds of students to the tables of CultureFest in front of Malcolm X Plaza.
“I’m speechless. I want food,” Shareen Singh, 22, said. “I just had a La Raza tostada and I want some Japanese curry. This is too much fun, I love it.”
Singh, the president of the Indian Student Association (ISA), wore a bright blue and yellow saiwar kameez, a traditional Fijian Indian pants and top. From her ISA table, she joked with her neighbors at the Asian Student Union (ASU) table.
“The ASU and the ISU get along very well,” Singh said.
CultureFest was one event among many that celebrated different cultures during the eighth annual International Education Week (IEW), which began Nov. 13 and ran until Nov. 16.
IEW happens across the country at all grade levels. Teaching students about different cultures and encouraging them to study abroad prepares them to tackle global issues, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said in a statement.
More than 20 state governors, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, the U.S. Secretary of Education and President Bush endorsed the IEW.
“International Education Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about cultures beyond our borders,” Bush said a statement released Oct. 31.
The IEW at SF State is a way to introduce students to the possibility of studying abroad, said David Wick, coordinator of the Study Abroad Services. Wick said he hoped students would get a positive glimpse of foreign cultures through such programs a World at a Glance: Country Culture Series, a string of question-answer sessions with locals of various countries.
“The presentations were useful,” said Sarah Chase, a 19-year-old journalism major who attended the Danish and Dutch culture shares. “All in all I did learn a lot, and now I’m excited to go fill out an application and pray that I’m accepted.”
By the numbers, it seems SF State students hardly need encouragement to study abroad. According to Wick, SF State is second in the nation for sending students on year-long study abroad programs. Wick said he expects SF State will reach first by next year. Every semester about 250 SF State students leave for study abroad programs, he said.
A report on the Institute of International Education Web site indicates SF State was behind only New York’s Touro College in the 2005-2006 academic year for sending Master’s students abroad, with 177 and 345 students enrolled in each school’s respective program.
The IEW is also a way to help foreign students share their culture with Americans. Across the path from Singh, Yuka Tachiri, 19, stood with the Japanese Student Association, serving curry vegetables and rice to passers-by. He’s been living in the U.S. and studying at SF State for one year.
“The American people are very kind and very open,” said Tachiri, a computer engineering major. “We are welcomed by them.”
For the third year in a row, SF State has hosted the most international students of any master's degree-granting institution in the country. This semester 2,496 international students are attending SF State.
SF State has a long history with international education. The university established an international program in 1938, nearly 20 years before President Dwight D. Eisenhower instituted the national study abroad program called Friend to Friend.
Today, SF State offers exchange programs for nearly every major to more than 30 countries.
There are ongoing study abroad information meetings Monday through Thursday in the Office of International Programs in the Administration Building.
Overall, Wick said the cultural events and the informative events of the IEW were a success.
"To see that much happening was really inspiring," said Wick, "It helped with exposure."
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