According to Andrew Heald, director of programs at the Global Brown Center, the university’s annual celebration of International Education Week showed “two sides of the same coin” about Brown and the world.
The two-week events, part of a joint initiative by the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education to advance America’s role in education both domestically and internationally, focused on “the world at Brown” and “Brown in the World,” Heald said .
The national celebration and “longstanding tradition” usually takes place during the third week of November, according to Natalia Román Alicea, program coordinator at the Global Brown Center for International Students. But this year the university has extended its IEW program to two weeks from November 7-18, Román Alicea said.
IEW aims to “promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and share experiences,” according to the IEW’s official website.
“Especially these days, with the world at our fingertips, … it’s important to globalize our conversations on college campuses so that (they) aren’t just rooted in American cultural perspectives,” said Román Alicea.
Heald said that IEW is even more important now “given how difficult the last three years have really been for international communities around the world,” and the program serves to bring that reality center stage.
“It’s our responsibility to question the space we take in (these) conversations,” as a globally recognized Ivy League college,” Heald said.
Sally Zhang ’23, one of GBC’s cultural program coordinators who helped plan and organize the IEW, said they had “about 15 to 20” events in a week last year.
“I really enjoyed this year’s event because I think splitting it up into two weeks means that students don’t have to choose between specific events,” she said.
The first week focused on globalized research and featured activities and events conducted by international communities at Brown, while the second week presented opportunities for overseas study and research in addition to discussing Brown’s global influence, Heald said.
Activities during the first week included a Ukrainian Music Night hosted by the Ukrainian House, a ‘Powerpoint Night’ hosted by the GBC and a Polish Independence Day celebration hosted by the Polish American Society. The second week featured Study Abroad 101 hosted by Study Abroad Advising, Transatlantic Research Opportunities for PhD and Postdocs hosted by GBC and the Office of the Vice President for Research, and a film screening of The Man Who Sold His Skin. , hosted by the Center for Language Studies, according to IEW posters.
“I learned that Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. … I wasn’t expecting that,” said Marco Villamizar ’26, who attended the second week of Study Abroad International Trivia hosted by Study Abroad Advising.
The program is designed for “the entire campus community as a whole,” Heald said.
“Regardless of whether a student (local or international) is in the process of developing the skills we need to be a global citizen, International Education Week offers many opportunities,” said Román Alicea.
“It’s great to be able to have these experiences (as a local student) and learn more about cultures that are different from (ours),” said Laura Romig ’25, a CLS Language Ambassador who helps run CLS events helped.
Heald also encouraged international students to take advantage of studying abroad, even if they might think they’re “already studying abroad,” he said.
“When else in your life can you have a focused four to five month period to immerse yourself in another culture and have the support (the system) in place?” said Study Abroad Advisor Kelly Sachleben.
Meiyi Song ’25 participated in Study Abroad 101 despite being an international student at Brown. “There’s a chance to go — so why not take the opportunity to learn about other colleges?” she said.
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The Global Brown Center serves as the IEW’s facilitator, while the Center for Language Studies, Study Abroad Advising and student organizations regularly participate in hosting events each year, Heald said.
Román Alicea said there could be a greater focus on study and research abroad at other institutions. The university’s IEW week also focuses on these themes, but it also creates space for “students to celebrate their communities, their identities and their experiences,” she added.
She noted that the GBC made a general call for events in October and an organization can request additional support or sponsorship from the GBC if needed.
Brown University Dining Services also celebrated IEW last week by hosting international cuisine — including Armenian, French and Dominican cuisine — at the Sharpe Refectory, Andrews and Verney-Woolley Dining Hall, according to Román Alicea.
Kathy Wang is a senior writer in charge of the university’s Undergraduate Council of Students and Undergraduate Finance Board. She is a student from Beijing, China, majoring in Nonfiction and Comparative Literature.