The Global Brown Center for International Students hosted International Education Week — a week of events spotlighting what it means to be a global campus and celebrating students’ international experiences — from Nov. 13 to 18, according to Andrew Heald, program director of the GBC.
The GBC held various events throughout the week, such as panel discussions and a trivia night with Dean of the College Rashid Zia ’01.
International Education Week is a nationwide event recognized by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, according to the IEW website.
“The way we have conceptualized the goals of International Education Week is to do the work of the center but on a bigger scale,” Heald said. This year, the GBC worked in collaboration with Study Abroad Advising, the Center for Language Studies and other University centers to host events for both undergraduate and graduate students.
“We’re also celebrating the value of international education,” said Ruby Cheng, assistant director of the GBC. “International education is really life-changing for a lot of participants.” As such, the GBC aims to advocate for international students as well as provide resources for study-abroad opportunities.
The week’s events allowed students to bond and mingle, said Syrina Robinson, the program coordinator of the GBC.
This was especially clear at the final event of the week, where students packed into Macmillan Hall for a night of international trivia. Nearly 20 groups of students competed to answer trivia questions based on geography, international musicians and more.
“I love this particular slice of nerds,” said Jessie Simon ’24. “Geography and language knowledge is something that I loved as a kid, and it’s so fun to be surrounded by that.”
Simon learned about the event from the Center for Language Studies. “I try to go to as many of their events as I can,” she said.
After attending many IEW events last year, Yuliia Stepanenko ’26, a student from Ukraine and a community engagement coordinator for the GBC, helped plan this year’s events. She created the Global Gallery, a space in the GBC lounge where a rotation of students can share their artwork, which opened Nov. 15.
IEW tends to vary from year to year, with last year’s event spanning two weeks rather than this year’s one week. “Every year and every week is going to look a little different,” Heald said.
In particular, this year’s IEW focused on mental health and the graduate student experience, topics that hadn’t previously been major highlights.
Ugoji Nwanaji-Enwerem GS, a second-year Nigerian-American Ph.D. student and the graduate student coordinator for the GBC, helped to organize the week’s graduate student activities, such as the Global Mingle hosted in collaboration with Counseling and Psychological Services.
“Things like self-care and mental health were really the goals of this event, and I think that was well-received by students,” she said.
In the second year in her role, Nwanaji-Enwerem and the GBC staff have noticed that the academic and wellness needs of graduate students have grown over time. “We really wanted to curate well-designed and tailored events that capture … the holistic person,” she said.
The GBC also held an event called “Education, Migration and Belonging” with the International House of Rhode Island and the Swearer Center. The event focused on the “global to local concept and the idea that international education doesn’t just exist when you cross a border,” Heald said. “It also exists right here in our communities, in the history of Providence and the history of the spaces that we occupy.”
While not all the IEW events were well-attended due to the week’s proximity to Thanksgiving, Heald stressed the value of the events that occurred. “The student advocacy panel and the (Education, Migration and Belonging Panel) were so well attended and had such a robust conversation,” he said. “Now that we’re at the end of the week, we’re really reflecting on just how powerful some of those moments can be, even in a time that feels really busy and really chaotic.”
Stepanenko said she loves the community at these events.
“It means a lot in terms of feeling belonging somewhere and having a community or even a family here,” she said. To her, the understanding from international students about adapting to a new country makes those bonds special.
“I think it’s very important to learn about other countries and being in such a big community where it’s so diverse and you can meet people from all over the world and firsthand learn about a country or a culture,” she said.
Stepanenko hopes that the IEW events attracted more domestic students.
“I think it’s very important for people outside of the international community to come to the events,” she said, adding that “it would be great if we could spread out to the regular Brown community” to go beyond pre-existing interest just among international students.
To Nwanaji-Enwerem, Brown’s IEW events also carry special importance. On campus, “you can see that there’s so much diversity in terms of students and also faculty, and I think that having these events recognizes that our presence is known,” she said. “It highlights that Brown is a place that appreciates who I am as a person, not just me being a student here trying to get a degree, and I think that’s something special.”