As part of a joint initiative of the US Department of State and the US Department of Education, educational institutions participate in an annual International Education Week.
The goal of this week-long event, according to the official website, is “to prepare Americans for a global environment and to attract future leaders from abroad.”
International Education Week campus partners at BYU include Multicultural Student Services, International Student and Scholar Services, the Kennedy Center for International Studies, and the Office of Belongings.
Sam Brown, director of International Student and Scholar Services at BYU, said IEW will be “celebrated this week on all campuses across the country and around the world as a collaborative effort to recognize the benefits of international education.”
Within the BYU community, Brown said, IEW aims to help students understand what opportunities are available to help them learn from global perspectives.
Throughout the week, students around campus had the opportunity to participate in booths, activities and workshops. Other events scheduled to continue throughout the week include cultural performances, service projects, lectures and movie nights.
Cory Leonard, co-chair of BYU’s IEW committee and associate director of special programs at the Kennedy Center, said BYU has been a part of the IEW for more than 30 years.
Leonard said he wants students to know that these resources are available throughout the year, not just during IEW. “This is a week where we’re trying to increase visibility for all the resources and things on campus that people might not always think of,” Leonard said.
Having resources available to both international students and students who want to gain global and international experience can enhance the student experience.
“Many international students face many barriers and hurdles that other students don’t have,” Leonard said.
International students like Georgia McGrath from Yorkshire, England, know some of these barriers and hurdles.
McGrath advised other international students to take the international orientation course in their freshman semester to make more international friends.
“Meet your advisor and the International Student and Scholar Services office,” McGrath said. “They are the nicest people ever and understand the struggle.”
The ISSS office can advise international students on their visa forms. They also work to help international students feel valued on campus and help them have an enriching experience at BYU, Brown said.
As Director of the ISSS, Brown said, “I can help support our amazing international students, visiting faculty and scholars, refugees, asylum seekers and the undocumented in their educational endeavors.”
Other Kennedy Center resources can help BYU students create their own international experiences. Leonard said study abroad programs and international internship experiences can be affordable for any student at BYU.
“We are very fortunate to have the resources and expertise of the faculty,” said Leonard. “What people don’t realize is that studying abroad or doing an international internship will change your life. It will open up opportunities for you that you won’t have if you stay in Provo.”
Leonard emphasized BYU’s global nature, as it is known for teaching several lesser-taught languages and being home to five government-funded national centers of excellence.
To begin their own international journey, Leonard encourages students to verify their eligibility for international affairs scholarships by completing a survey at the Kennedy Center.
Brown said, “We hope that the idea of ’the world is our campus’ is something that everyone considers for themselves this week and beyond.”
Brown encouraged other students to think more globally and challenged students to be more open-minded and look for opportunities to learn more about the world and its people. Leonard urged students to reach out to international students and make new friends.
“I hope our international students feel loved and that they are a valued part of our community,” Brown said. “I hope that everyone who participates in the many activities we have this week – both academic and extracurricular – will go home with a strong sense of global citizenship.”