by Jessica Foshee
International Education Week (IEW) is an annual week-long celebration held by the Center for Global Engagement at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. IEW is a joint initiative led by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education as part of efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences. It is celebrated by many institutions across the U.S.
UT celebrated this year’s IEW from November 14–18 with over 20 events to highlight the impact and benefits of international education on Rocky Top.
IEW began with a kickoff event where students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to paint the Rock and enjoy international snacks. Food was provided by local restaurants Jai Dee Thai Kitchen, Yassin’s Falafel House and Sticky Rice Café. At the event CGE debuted its International Cuisine Map which highlights local international restaurants near campus. These local establishments are an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to experience unfamiliar cultures and customs without ever leaving Knoxville.
Another IEW event, the China Town Hall, was co-hosted by CGE, the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the Haslam College of Business and the TN-China Network. The event focused on the importance of relations between the U.S. and China. It began with a webinar where Jon M. Huntsman Jr., former ambassador to China, Russia and Singapore, discussed U.S.-China business and trade relations. Following the webinar, a local panel of UT faculty and business leaders, including Lulu Lim Copeland, Sara Hsu, John McDevitt, Dwight Nordstrom and Krista Wiegand, answered audience questions regarding the impact and significance China has on local industry.
Lulu Lim Copeland, executive director of TN-China Network, emphasized that “lack of knowledge and understanding [about U.S.-China relations] gets us to the wrong place.” Copeland comes from an engineering background and does volunteer work promoting STEM education in public school systems. She explained that the U.S. should focus on STEM education to work and compete with China.
To cap off IEW, the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) team hosted an open house. ISSS provides immigration advising and support services to the international student and scholar population. Faculty and staff met with the ISSS team and learned about new policy and procedure changes while enjoying international snacks.
William Vittetoe, director of ISSS, discussed that the core focus of the office is “to ensure our students, visiting scholars, researchers, international faculty have the immigration support they need to be able to succeed at UT. Our goal is to ameliorate the adjustment process and make sure they feel part of the community here. This can be a challenge coming from a different country, culture, or educational system, and ISSS is here to help.”
Many other IEW campus events were hosted by colleges and departments across the university between November 14–18. The events included study abroad open houses, a McClung Museum exhibition titled Día de los Muertos, Chancellor Donde Plowman’s open office hours at the International House, multiple receptions that honored student and faculty researchers conducting impactful global work, the launch of a new international business major, international photo contests, lectures on global topics and much more.
Rocky Top continues to be a campus with a rich, diverse tapestry of cultures. It’s a place where students, faculty and staff can come from around the world to learn and teach, or to discover an opportunity to study or research abroad.
Jason Moody (865-974-5752, email@example.com)