As we prepared for International Education Week I spoke with two members of our UNC Charlotte family. I decided to delve into the opinions of one faculty and student worker in the Office of Education Abroad. Melissa Watkins, Lead Advisor and Teresa Herman, student worker, were very helpful on their perspectives of the importance of International Education Week.
As I met with Ms. Watkins, I posed several questions that would hopefully enlighten the audience to the advantages and potential challenges associate with international relations and cultures as it may pertain to IEW. She made it very clear that she was extremely excited about IEW and she felt it was a “Great opportunity to highlight international initiatives on campus, bring awareness to international students, and encourage US students to get involved locally and connect and develop relationships”. I also asked her does she feel IEW is an opportunity beneficial to the campus and does she believe it should be a program we should continue? “Most definitely, IEW is an opportunity for American students to develop friendships and relationships with international students that could last for a lifetime. With the longevity of a program like this, the barriers or differences between the cultures will one day become a past memory.” This week will be a great week and many more to come, I hope that all students take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and experience the greatness of many different cultures around them. One thing she does hope students get away from are staying close with their friends and not branching out to experience other cultures different from themselves. Also, she hoped to see more involvement from the American students at UNC Charlotte. “IEW is an amazing opportunity for all, not just international or American students”.
Ms. Watkins was extremely informative and a joy to converse with. She has a great understanding about the advantages and sometimes challenges of International Education Week.
Teresa Herman is a student worker in the OEA. She has dealt with all different cultures in the OEA and loves her job and the role she plays in helping students gain knowledge that will help them reach goals of studying abroad, and even involvement on campus. I too asked Ms. Herman what she thought about IEW. She was very joyful and well spoken as she feels, “IEW gives people the opportunity to have an open mind about different cultures and the benefits of these week long programs go both ways and benefits all students and faculty involved just the same”. A question I posed differently to Ms. Herman as she is a student leader on campus was From a student’s perspective what do you think we could do as students differently to encourage participation? Her thoughts were clear as she thinks, “We have to have many events that encourage interaction. There should be more collaborative efforts between International student organizations, and American student organizations on campus. With more acceptance, understanding, effective publicity, and participation – International involvement and relations on campus would soar”!
As I thoroughly enjoyed the interviews of both Ms. Melissa Watkins and Ms. Teresa Herman, I completely agreed. We definitely encourage participation, for the Office of International Programs works extremely hard to orchestrate these programs and events for the greater campus community! We invite everyone to come out and celebrate as we appreciate and glorify every culture and must never forget, “We live in a melting pot seasoned with diversity, and the product is always amazing”! So enjoy International Education Week, broaden your horizons, and learn something new!