WKU to celebrate different countries each year starting in 2014

Jacob Parker

The Office of International Programs at WKU is introducing a new program to focus on internationalizing campus life and curriculum. 

Beginning with the International Year of Ecuador in the 2014-2015 school year, the program will help to integrate different countries, one per academic school year, into campus life. The two years following Ecuador the countries will be South Africa and South Korea. 

Every academic and non-academic office on campus will get to decide how Ecuador relates to their particular department. 

Andrea Cheney, coordinator in the Office of International Programs, said she thinks this is the beauty of the program.

“The idea is to give WKU campus and community the opportunity to connect with a country or region,” she said. 

Cheney said the internationalization of campus life will be co-curricular, allowing students to learn as much as possible about the country. 

More than 15 different departments have already submitted ideas, which are currently in the works, and a chef is in the early stages of talks with Aramark to offer Ecuadorian foods on campus. 

Faculty will undergo training for the internationalization as well by attending a seminar led by other faculty, who have extensive experience within the chosen country of the year.

Cheney said in order to better internationalize the students the faculty should be more experienced as well. In order to do this, in addition to the seminar, faculty are encouraged to propose a course plan that would incorporate aspects of Ecuador. 

“We’re targeting faculty members who haven’t had a lot of international experience,” she said. “The idea is for the faculty to go and explore the country, to work and to develop professionally.” 

Ten to 12 faculty members will then modify courses based on their research and experience in the chosen country. Cheney said this is to encourage students further to think about traveling abroad. 

In addition, as an investment in the experience for WKU, any office that spends funds to incorporate the given country will be matched on a one-for-one basis from the Office of International Programs.

In this way, Cheney said, the full integration of a chosen country into curricular and non-curricular activities will help to internationalize the main campus. 

Craig Cobane, chief international officer, said the program provides an opportunity for students who don’t travel abroad, which is about 97 percent, to become more culturally enhanced. 

“You enter into college as a freshman, and you have four years ahead of you,” he said. “That’s four different cultures that you’ve been fully immersed in upon graduation.” 

Cobane said he thinks it will be a fantastic way to internationalize students and faculty. 

“It’s gonna be a great program,” he said. “It’s really all about internationalizing our campus.”