Defining Internationalism: Reves Center highlights global cultural events

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March 31, 2011

10:39 PM

Today’s news headlines often concern issues from across the globe. Whether it be the revolutions and protests in Egypt and Libya or the natural disaster in Japan, it is obvious that there is a wider world beyond the bubble in which we live at the College of William and Mary. However, the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies aimed to shed light on the fact that there is more internationalism than students realize within this bubble.

Starting last Friday, the Reves Center began its first International Week. Although the School of Education has sponsored an International Week during each fall semester for the past few years, this event aimed to give students more freedom to learn with less of an academic feel.

“Especially at William and Mary, it’s easy to say we are international but harder to actually be international,” Wendy Couch, graduate assistant at the Reves Center, said. “We hope the events give students a lot of exposure to internationalism.”

On Saturday and Monday, workshops were available throughout the day in the Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center and the Reves Center, respectively. These sessions provided students with information about study abroad programs in Asia, the job search as an international student, and career opportunities for those with an international background from studying abroad.

Monday also featured a global citizenship reception and workshop in the Reves Center. The workshop was intended to address some of the questions raised by the protests and revolutions currently happening around the world, and encouraged participants to develop their own definitions of global citizenship.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Eduardo Ochoa visited Tuesday to speak to students at the School of Education.

“For students and faculty interested in international affairs, public policy, and education policy, this is a great opportunity to meet and hear a senior Obama official talk on a subject very relevant to us,” Director of International Students, Scholars and Programs Stephen Sechirst said.

Wednesday brought a change to the menu at the Sadler Center dining hall. Instead of cheeze pizza, salad and fries, dishes from countries around the world were offered to students, to hopefully give them a taste of some different cultures.

The celebration of international awareness will conclude this Friday with a screening of “Crossing Borders” in
the Commonwealth Auditorium. This documentary, which follows the story of four American and four Moroccan university students traveling through Morocco and aims to support cross-culture relations.

“Through the course of their travel[s] together, [the eight students] break down stereotypes about each other and discover a lot about themselves,” Sechrist said. “It’s one of those films that really impacts you.”

Immediately following the screening, students will have the opportunity to participate in a discussion and Q&A session with the documentary’s director, Arnd Wächter, in an event co-sponsored by the Reves Center and the Center for Student Diversity.

“It’s a really good documentary for William and Mary,” Couch said. “It really pushes you to realize what your biases are. You always want to push yourself to engage with the Other.”

While many of these events have been planned specifically for International Week, Sechrist emphasizes that his main goal is to show that these cultural celebrations happen regularly.

For example, there will be a special exhibit by the Filipino-American Student Association in Swem on display through April 25. Additionally, there will be an exhibit by award-winning German photographer Bettina Flitner in the Muscarelle Museum of Art through April 3. This special exhibit displays photographs of people in both East and West Berlin immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“As we see it, International Week is an opportunity to showcase the many opportunities for international learning that are created by and available to the William and Mary community every day,” Sechrist said. “Across campus, cultural events, faculty lectures and interactions inspired by experiences abroad contribute to the development of international perspectives in our community.”

The Reves Center hopes that, if nothing else, the celebration of International Week will encourage students to think about internationalism on campus.

“We hope it opens a dialogue about what ‘international’ is at William and Mary,” Couch said. “Is it studying abroad, or is it wearing clothes made in a foreign culture, or something more?”

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