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Brown hosts International Education Week to celebrate international communities, experiences

Campus centers, student groups organize events

A joint initiative among the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, IEW seeks to foster a more global perspective among students.

Courtesy of Sally Zhang
A joint initiative among the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, IEW seeks to foster a more global perspective among students. Courtesy of Sally Zhang

The University’s annual celebration of International Education Week showed “two sides of the same coin” about Brown and the globe, according to Andrew Heald, program director at the Global Brown Center.

The two weeks of events, part of a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote America’s role in education domestically and internationally, focused on the “world at Brown” and “Brown in the world,” Heald said.

The national celebration and “longstanding tradition” typically happens in the third week of November, according to Natalia Román Alicea, program coordinator at the Global Brown Center for International Students. But this year, the University has extended its IEW programming to span two weeks from Nov. 7 to 18, Román Alicea said.

IEW aims to “promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences,” according to IEW’s official website.

“Especially nowadays, when the world is at our fingertips, … (it’s important to) globalize our conversations on college campuses so that (they) aren’t just rooted in American cultural perspectives,” Román Alicea said.

Heald said that IEW is even more important now “considering how difficult the last three years have really been for international communities around the world,” and the program serves to center that reality.

“It’s our responsibility (to) interrogate what space we take up in (those) conversations” as a globally recognized Ivy League college,” Heald said. 

Sally Zhang ’23, one of the GBC’s cultural program coordinators who helped plan and organize IEW, said that last year they had “around 15 to 20” events within one week.

“I really liked this year’s setup, because I think having it spread out between two weeks means that students don't have to choose between certain events,” she said.

The first week focused on globalized research and offered activities and events run by international communities at Brown, while the second week showcased study abroad and research abroad opportunities in addition to discussing Brown’s global impact, Heald said. 

Activities in week one included a Ukrainian Music Night hosted by the Ukrainian House, a “Powerpoint Night” hosted by the GBC and a Polish Independence Day celebration hosted by the Polish American Society. The second week featured “Study Abroad 101” hosted by Study Abroad Advising, Transatlantic Research Opportunities for PhD and Postdocs hosted by the GBC and the Office of the Vice President for Research and a movie screening of “The Man Who Sold His Skin” hosted by the Center for Language Studies, according to IEW posters.

“I learned that Mexico has the biggest Spanish speaking population in the world. … I didn't expect that,” said Marco Villamizar ’26, who participated in week two’s Study Abroad International Trivia hosted by Study Abroad Advising.

The program is designed for “the entire campus community as a whole,” Heald said.

“Regardless of whether a student is (domestic or international), in the process of developing the competencies that we need to be a global citizen, International Education Week can provide a lot of opportunities,” said Román Alicea.

“It's great, (as a domestic student) to be able to have those experiences and learn more about cultures different from (our) own,” said Laura Romig ’25, a CLS language ambassador who helped facilitate CLS events.

Heald also encouraged international students to take advantage of studying abroad, even if they might think they are “already studying abroad,” he said.

“When else in your life can you have a focused four to five month period (to) immerse yourself in another culture, and have the support (system) in place?” Study Abroad Advisor Kelly Sachleben said. 

Meiyi Song ’25 attended “Study Abroad 101” even though she is already an international student at Brown. “There’s a chance to go — so why not take the opportunity to experience other colleges?” she said.

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The Global Brown Center serves as a facilitator of IEW while the Center for Language Studies, Study Abroad Advising and student organizations have consistently participated in hosting events each year, Heald said. 

Román Alicea said that at other institutions, there might be a larger focus on study and research abroad. The University’s IEW Week also focuses on those topics, but space is also made for “students to celebrate their communities, their identities and experiences,” she added. 

She noted that the GBC made a general call for events in October and an organization could choose to request additional support or sponsorship if needed from the GBC.

Brown University Dining Services also celebrated IEW last week by hosting international cuisines — including Armenian, French and Dominican food — at the Sharpe Refectory, Andrews and Verney-Woolley Dining Hall, according to Román Alicea.


Kathy Wang

Kathy Wang is a senior staff writer who covers the University's Undergraduate Council of Students and Undergraduate Finance Board. She is a sophomore from Beijing, China studying Nonfiction Writing and Comparative Literature.



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