International Education Week was organized from Nov 15 to Nov 20, with its highlight being the International Bazaar on Nov 20. The events were hosted to promote cultural diversity among the DePauw community, according to Elizabeth Haymaker, director of international student affairs.
“It's really just a joyful moment, really celebrating one another and also sharing with one another and the wider DePauw and Greencastle and Putnam county community,” Haymaker said. She thought that joy came from people sharing the basis of who they are, how they sing and how they eat.
The event was a reminder of how much the DePauw community shares, according to Haymaker. "We might celebrate, maybe our songs are different, but we're all singing about love or joy or sorrow or grief, or, you know, we're coming together as a family or friends to share food together,” she said.
Kristina Mikhailova, president of the DePauw International Student Association, also recognized the importance of the International Bazaar to both international and domestic students.
“It's both [the] value of us getting together, getting a unity within the community, as well as bridging two communities of domestic and international students together on campus, which is crucial and very important,” Mikhailova said.
The board received help from the International Student Affairs, as well as clubs and organizations such as Vietnamese Student Association, DePauw China Connection, etc. when preparing for the Bazaar to assist with struggles due to COVID-19. The event was cancelled last year because of COVID-19, so many newer students didn’t know about it.
“It was hard to communicate to people what we expect from certain groups, like from people who are cooking, from people who are performing,” Mikhailova said.
“[International Student Affairs tried] to make sure that we have everything set in place...And I think a lot of organizations were reaching out to us to collaborate. I really appreciate it, because without those clubs, we [would] not be able to get things done,” Mikhailova said.
First-year Quan Nguyen, performing for the Vietnamese Student Association in the Bazaar, thought that the night also brought connection among students who come from the same culture.
“I didn’t have many chances to get to know my Vietnamese friends before we practiced together for the performance. So it is meaningful that we can get together and, in some ways, represent Viet Nam here at DePauw,” Nguyen added.
According to Mandy Brookins, associate dean of experiential learning and director of off-campus programs, the International Education Week provides preparation for students’ future success as they participate in the event as presenters presenting about their cultures.
“So how do you share your time abroad or your time engaging with other cultures to a wider audience? Public speaking and communication skills, and then also storytelling. Maybe even a little bit of their own brand development, things that give them an opportunity to create an elevator pitch to anybody who might be interested in their background or their stories,” Brookins said.
She also thought the International Education Week contributes to global education in the liberal arts, a critical part of education in the 21st century.
The pandemic has proven that leadership is impactful, and what contributes to it is the important skill set of working with people from different cultural backgrounds, according to Brookins.
First-year Nan Lin Wah “Nan Nan” Sin Htoo, a presenter in the International Education Week, learned a lot in the process of preparing for her presentation about Myanmar.
“I really enjoyed the process of making the slides and everything...The most difficult part [was putting] the political timeline itself so I can go back to history and figure out which ones [should I talk about] and in what ways so that people would be able to understand,” Nan Nan said.
Nan Nan also considered the presentation an opportunity for her to feel more connected to her country, since she is currently far away from it and is less aware of the political crisis that is happening there.
“Sometimes by not talking to [my friends at home] or by not reading news from my country, I can kind of put them aside for a bit and enjoy my life here…” Nan Nan said. "But when I decided to raise awareness about it and present it, I had to look through the overall process, like current news and stuff like that.”