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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Five-day-long event looks to raise awareness, promote appreciation
The+International+Students+Association+will+be+hosting+International+Week%2C+a+five-day+celebration+looking+to+raise+cultural+awareness+and+appreciation%2C+starting+Monday.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+the+International+Student+Association%29
The International Students Association will be hosting International Week, a five-day celebration looking to raise cultural awareness and appreciation, starting Monday. (Photo courtesy of the International Student Association)

From Monday, Feb. 26 to Friday, March 1, the International Student Association will host International Week, or I-Week. During the five-day-long celebration, there will be a different focus each day to spread cultural awareness. 

During I-Week, students will have the opportunity to learn about other cultures, see their own culture represented, participate in activities and experience the various traditions of other cultures. 

This year, I-Story will showcase films and genres that represent each country’s culture. Other events consist of sharing cultural exhibits, artwork and food.  The location and times of the individual events of I-Week are as follows:

  • I-Exhibit will be placed on Monday, Feb. 26 in the Rudder Plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
  • I-Story will be on Tuesday, Feb. 27 in MSC 2404 from 4:30-6 p.m. 
  • I-Dinner will be on Wednesday, Feb. 28 located in MSC 2300 from 6-8 p.m. 
  • I-Show will be on Thursday, Feb. 29 in Rudder Theatre from 7:30-9 p.m. 
  • The final event, I-Art, will be on Friday, March 1 at the J. Wayne Stark Galleries from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Student Development Specialist in the MSC Programs Valerie Wilson, Class of 2014, serves as the advisor for the International Student Association. 

“The International Student Association’s mission breaks down into three parts,” Wilson said. “… one is to be a resource to the over 6,000 international students on campus … second is to share global cultures with the rest of campus … the third part is to develop global leaders.”

Wilson said international students face challenges that domestic students don’t.

“International students tend to struggle with their identity,” Wilson said. “They might say, ‘I know what an Aggie looks like, but is that a role that I can fill?’ Many international students struggle with practical things like they don’t have a car or a driver’s license in this country … or for many, there is a language barrier.”

Despite cultural differences, Wilson said international and American Aggies also face similar challenges like studying. 

“Every issue that American students are facing, our international students are facing those same issues, but then extra things on top of that, including hateful behavior towards them,” Wilson said.

Vice President of External Programs of ISA physics doctoral candidate Arjun Sengupta said as an international student he struggled with cultural differences.

“The biggest struggles of being an international student are the cultural differences of what words are and aren’t appropriate to say in different situations and also learning how to interact with the people at A&M,” Sengupta said. “ISA has provided a safe space for other students and myself to share experiences, make new friends and cultivate a diverse friend group.” 

Vice President of Marketing for ISA and electrical engineering sophomore Lakshya Vason said attending I-Week as a freshman international student was an eye-opening experience.

“As a freshman attending I-Week, I had an overall great experience, mainly, the best thing about I-Week is that you get to meet and interact with so many new people,” Vason said. “I also got to meet a lot of international students going through the master’s program and networked with them to get their experience being an international master’s student.”

Wilson said everyone should attend not only to network but also to experience cultures in a way that doesn’t require them to spend an excessive amount of money. 

“A lot of the time if you want to see these certain types of dances or hear these stories from these people, you have actually to go to their country, and that’s a huge investment of money and time,” Wilson said. “It is such a valuable way to learn about new cultures without leaving the A&M campus.”

Vason said there are many reasons students should attend.

“You do get a free t-shirt, and I would definitely recommend that you attend so that you do not miss I-Dinner and I-Show because it will be the highest in production in terms of food and performance,” Vason said. 

Sengupta said he is looking forward to all the various displays of culture.

“I’m excited to see a mix of cultures and showcases of different cultures,” Vason said. “I’m also looking forward to our international dinner that will feature a buffet of cuisines from various cultures. I believe students should attend to not only have a good time, but to be amongst a diverse mix of cultures.”

Since I-Week will last for five days, Wilson said students are not required to attend all the events each day of the week.

“You don’t have to spend the whole week going to all of the events you could go to one or two, just go to the ones that are the most interesting to you and fit in your schedule,” Wilson said. “A lot of them are also come-and-go events.”

With midterms right around the corner, Vason said he saw the event as a way to break away from the stress surrounding this time in the semester.

“Especially with midterms coming up, it’s nice to have this event to kind of get a break from the constant exams and refresh your mind,” Vason said.

Sengupta said attending the festival can help change the minds of visitors.

“You will gain a deeper understanding of the different cultures from attending the event, making you a more holistic and empathetic person,” Sengupta said.

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