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Students hold Brazil's flag during an International Festival on Nov. 16 on
Library Walk. The event was part of UCSD's first International Education Week. Photos by Jaimie Bell

Campus Launches International Education Week
Students Encouraged to Expand Horizons Beyond U.S.

By Ioana Patringenaru I November 21, 2005

Andrew Casad, a graduate student in anthropology, shows other students spices and other products from Eritrea, a little-known African country.

They talked about the United Nations, AIDS in Mexico and independence in the Balkans. They sampled British tea and finger sandwiches. They watched Latin American and Afghan movies.

Thousands of students took part in UCSD’s first International Education Week last week. Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said during the opening ceremony that she hoped the event will help students think more broadly.

At 5 p.m. on Nov. 14, a small group of about 50 students, alumni and employees enjoyed a very British tea at the International House. They sat at round tables covered in delicate white cloth and sprinkled with rose petals. They sipped Earl Grey and Lady Grey tea out of white porcelain cups. They nibbled on finger sandwiches, scones, lemon curd and pastries. They also talked about how international education has impacted their lives.

A student releases an offering she borrowed from Thailand's booth.

Later in the evening, a bigger crowd listened to Gillian Martin Sorenson, a senior adviser at the United Nations Foundation. She defended the UN against its critics. The organization protects the lives and health of children, fights for women’s rights, helps in natural disasters and feeds the hungry, she reminded her audience. She admitted that the United Nations went through difficult times over the handling of its oil-for-food program for Iraq. But she added that the United States should do a better job at working hand in hand with the organization and the international community.

“No nation, no nation however big, can stand alone,” she said. “Even superpowers need friends.”

Martin Sorenson also encouraged students to study abroad. Those who might want to do so had the opportunity to learn more about many countries during a three-hour International Festival Wednesday.

Chilean students Florencia Gutierrez and Maria Jose Viollier perform the cueca, a dance from their home country.

Students from five continents set up booths on Library Walk showcasing the culture, foods and traditions of their home country.

Chinese students put on an impressive display, including calligraphy demonstrations, artifacts from China and Tibet and Chinese sweets. Students worked in small groups and relied on Chinese university teachers for help, said Michelle Yao, a student at UCSD Extension. “We’re well prepared,” she said.

A few yards away, Italian students had spread their wares over two tables. Their display included olive oil, maps of Italy’s regions and several books. Some students spontaneously broke out into a rendition of “O Sole Mio.” A few feet away, Chilean students Florencia Gutierrez and Maria Jose Viollier performed the cueca, a dance from their home country. They said they liked the festival. “I think it’s the only way to know everyone,” Gutierrez said. They added they had learned about countries they had never heard of.

A student practices calligraphy at the Chinese booth.

Eritrea, an African country, could have been one of them. Andrew Casad, a graduate student in anthropology, had set up that country’s booth. Casad had done work in the field in Eritrea and was eager to share his knowledge of the country’s culture and history. Christianity established itself there around 350 A.D., without Western influence, he said. The country’s fortunes have been tied to neighboring Ethiopia. Most recently, Eritrea has become more militarized after its neighbor dissolved into war. Still, Eritrea remains remarkably corruption-free, Casad said.

Other International Education Week activities included:

. A production of Bus Stop by Gao Xinghian, recipient of the 2000 Nobel prize in literature, performed at the Mandell Weiss Forum Theatre loading dock area

. A talk by Enver Hasani, Kosovo foreign minister and professor of international law at Pristina University in Kosovo about self-determination in the Balkans

. A talk by Robert Wilder, CEO and founder of WilderShares, on Investing for Climate Change: How One Academic Built Wall Street's First Clean Energy Index


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Email: thisweek@ucsd.edu