Sam Houston State University’s International Student Organization will host the tenth annual International Week filled with free events and prizes to begin on April 16.
International Student Recruiter and Special Programs Coordinator Dana Van De Walker said International Week’s goal is to feature the experiences of students from around the world and to unify students despite their home countries.
“It is a series of events throughout the week that are designed to focus on international issues on campus, to bring together international students and American students and let international students showcase their countries,” Van De Walker said.
At SHSU there are 400 international students who represent over 70 different countries.
The vice president of the ISO, Celso Catumbela, is from Angola and said this annual event is vital to understand fellow Bearkats.
“Our school is known for a number of things, but unfortunately, one that is not often highlighted is really just how culturally diverse it is,” Catumbela said. “We have students from countries that most people have never even heard of and due to our busy schedules, it is likely that when going to and from classes we sometimes fail to take notice of such individuals.”
The week will begin festivities this Saturday with an international children’s story hour at the Huntsville Public Library at 1 p.m.
From Monday to Thursday, Old Main Market will showcase different international cuisines as a part of their international food festival.
There will be tables set up in the LSC Mall area from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday with students who will discuss 15 different countries in an event called “Around the World at SHSU”. Then later that day, there will be a special guest speaker, Dan McCarthy, who has 20 years of experience in immigration law.
“The keynote speaker will be talking about immigration issues,” Van De Walker said. “A lot of our international students would like to stay here in the U.S. and eventually obtain a work visa, so this is a very important speaker that is coming.”
10 student groups will showcase their countries in the Ronald P. Mafrige Auditorium 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
“These showcases are 30 minute presentations where students get up and talk about their country,” Van De Walker said. “Some of them are going to be singing songs or doing dances, martial arts and fashion shows.”
There will be two panels to discuss the experiences of study abroad students following the fair on Tuesday. The panel will feature students from Turkey, China, Korea, Finland and American students who have studied elsewhere.
The event on Thursday is called “International Dance Blast”. Two SHSU MFA dance students, Sarah Sanchez and Rasika Borse, will teach dance lessons. At 6 p.m. they will teach ballet folklorico and will teach a Bollywood dance at 7 p.m.
This is the first time the ISO has partnered with the Department of Dance.
Borse is actually a foreign exchange student herself. The dances are beginner oriented, so no experience in dance is needed.
Friday night, the festivities of international week will conclude with two final events. There will be an international potluck where students can cook food from their home countries and share it with the party. Following the potluck, they will have a movie night showing the film “Cool Runnings” at the Psychological Service Center.
ISO President Johanna Dahl was involved in last year’s international week and according to him, there have been a few minor changes that affect in a big way.
“This one will be more inclusive and a lot more fun as we have many different events ranging from guest speakers to dance lessons,” Dahl said. “We have participants from all over the world coming together to make this week great.”
Dahl, who is originally from Sweden, said the benefits of a special international week are plentiful.
“The international students here at Sam Houston get to share their culture with all the students as well as the faculty on campus,” Dahl said. “It is great that we can learn about other countries and their customs. It is important to have this week-long event to spread the awareness of other cultures and perspectives.”
SHSU international students come from six continents yet they can easily be mistaken as another Texan.
“We have over 400 international students on campus and I think that sometimes they blend into the background,” Van De Walker said. “They don’t get many opportunities to showcase who they are and where they come from. Huntsville is not a super international community but we do have a small but solid international group here. I like the idea that they get to talk about where they are from instead of being a part of Texas all the time.”
All events are free to the public. For more information please check out the SHSU International Programs website: http://www.shsu.edu/dept/international-programs/.