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Saint Mary’s promotes international culture, abroad programs

Bridget Feeney | Monday, November 14, 2011

Saint Mary’s will promote both international culture and study abroad opportunities this week as part of International Education Week (IEW), an annual program celebrated at colleges across the nation.

The Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) and Department of Modern Languages will co-sponsor the week’s events, which began Monday with several lectures and a French dinner.

Jill Long, the assistant director for CWIL’s International Student Scholar Services and Recruitment, said the week’s activities will promote an understanding of other countries and foster intercultural relationships.

“The idea is to bring awareness to the Saint Mary’s campus,” Long said. “We want people to realize how small our world really is and how important it is that we are up to date with what is going on in other corners of the globe.”

IEW features cultural presentations, discussions and panel presentations led by faculty and students for the College community, Long said. Dinners and lunches featuring international cuisine will also be served each day in the Noble Family Dining Hall.

Long said she hopes the events will unite international and domestic students.

“One of our goals is that people will feel more comfortable approaching our international students on campus and appreciate how much work and preparation they have done in order to study in the United States,” Long said. “[In particular, the International Cultural and Study Abroad Fair] on Friday [in the Student Center Lounge] will be a relaxed setting for people to enjoy music and dance from other countries.”

Long said another purpose of IEW is to promote new study abroad opportunities Saint Mary’s recently added to its list of available programs.

In addition to traditional programs like those in Ireland, Rome and Innsbruck, students can now study abroad in Morocco, China, France and at Oxford University in England. Additionally, Long said the College recently opened a new spring break option in Ireland.

The events of IEW will educate students about these study abroad opportunities, Long said.

“If you’re thinking of studying abroad, you can get a better of idea of what the program is like from someone who has experienced it that is your own age,” Long said.

While some events are similar to those hosted during last year’s program, Long said CWIL and the Department of Modern Languages made a few adjustments this year to allow more student attendance and discussion.

“We looked at event attendance from last year and tried to make them more accessible for students,” she said. “We wanted to make students feel more comfortable and feel like they are actually participating and that their questions are welcome. The goal is to open things up more so a dialogue starts that will continue throughout the year.”

For a schedule of International Education Week events and updated study abroad information, visit the CWIL website at www.centerforwomeninleadership.org