Event series aims to culturally educate students

Trevor Edwards, a senior WKU dance major (right) dances in sync to a traditional Bosnian dance for the International year of Bosnia and Herzegovina class put on by the National Dance Education Organization WKU Student Chapter.

Rebekah Alvey

This week, celebrated as International Education Week, aims to engage students, staff and faculty across disciplines with international education through a range of events and discussion.

International Education Week, sponsored by the Office of International Programs began on Monday and integrates international learning into classroom curriculum. Anna Yacovone, coordinator of international programs, said a committee of faculty and staff members began meeting during the spring semester and were tasked with bringing student centered events to campus for the week.

“The ultimate goal is that the focus isn’t just one week,” Yacovone said. “It’s weaved into different programs all year.”

Yacovone said the objective of International Education Week is to create events and programs that encourage an intercultural environment and that recognize the importance of cultural awareness and connectivity.

“We are a global world,” Yacovone said. “Interconnected.”

While International Education Week and International Year Of… are independent initiatives, Yacovone said there is some mixing. International Year Of… features a different country each year, focusing on Bosnia and Herzegovina for the 2017-2018 academic year.

On Monday, the WKU student chapter of the National Dance Education Organization, or NDEO, held a class teaching Kolo, a traditional Bosnian dance.

Glasgow senior Trevor Edwards, the president of the WKU student chapter of NDEO, said hosting classes on other cultural dances presents students with a new outlook on style and genres, while increasing social and cultural awareness.

“Dance is a universal language,” Edwards said.

At the Bosnian dance class, Edwards said he learned more about Bosnian culture than just the dance, such as the attire. He said he found the dance unique because it was very social and was inclusive for everyone.

Owensboro senior Jena Thompson volunteered to teach the class earlier this semester. She said she was able to learn a lot about Bosnian culture through research and learning the dance.

Wearing a bandana, loose shirt and a colorful, long skirt which Thompson said was a traditional Bosnian outfit for the dance, she showed the other dancers steps for the dance, in addition to giving a presentation on Bosnian culture.

For dance majors, Thompson said it is important to learn about new cultures to recognize it in dances or add to their choreography.

Toward the end of the class, Yacovone came in to watch the students and thank them for their continued participation. She said she loved seeing student involvement.

Last year, Yacovone said students organized half of the events during the International Education week. This year presented a different approach by encouraging events to be incorporated into classrooms through the dialogue series.

There are several events included in the series, such as discussing cultural differences in business, exporting to global markets and immigration. Yacovone said all of these events are open to all students and faculty but will take place during classes.

In addition to the dialogue series which continues throughout the week, there are other featured events outside of class times, such as a workshop on networking for international students and an international business forum.

A unique component of the International Education Week is that it addresses a variety of disciplines and departments.

“We strive for academic diversity and want every student to encounter this,” Yacovone said.

Yacovone said international education is usually limited to students who go abroad or participate in an exchange program. She said the events this week provide an opportunity for students who stay on campus to benefit and become more culturally educated.

“International education is critical for students,” Yacovone said. “No matter the focus or mission.”

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].