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Wednesday, April 16,2014

Athens goes all international once again

By Nadia Kurtz

Monday kicked off Ohio University's International Week in Baker Center Theater with an opening ceremony where attendees celebrated this year's theme, "The world in Athens, Athens in the world." The event consisted of student-made videos, a musical performance, fashion show and a student panel.

International Week celebrates diversity in Athens and the strong international influence on campus. Events throughout the week include Global Scoop, a sampling of international ice cream flavors; a panel discussion about international gender roles; a talent show featuring different cultures from around the world; and the annual International Street Fair that caps off the week on Saturday. For the complete schedule, click here.

The director of the international student and faculty services, Krista McCallum Beatty, commenced Monday's event with a speech highlighting the mission of International Week and all of the people who contributed to its development. Although the events have been around for years, this was the first year it kicked off with an opening ceremony.

"It takes a lot of creativity. Usually we come up with the theme and all the different events. Some of the events are the same from year to year, but this is something new. It takes a lot of coordination," McCallum Beatty said.

Between the items on the program, videos were shown of American students who have studied abroad speaking with international students from that country. According to McCallum Beatty, the university works hard to give international students an opportunity to learn about different cultures and spread their own knowledge to American students.

"Our international students love getting involved in the community," she said. "A lot of them get involved in nonprofit groups where they can learn things here and apply (them) back home."

Next up on the program was the fashion show, which displayed traditional attire from different countries including Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Republic of Congo and Egypt. The announcers explained the name, country and use of each clothing item as the students wearing them strode across the stage to the song "International Love" by Pitbull.

Though most of the audience was affiliated with the university, two high-school students made an appearance to perform a traditional German composition.

The end of the event consisted of a student panel taking questions from the audience. Two student members of the International Student Union at OU and had traveled abroad extensively. The other two students were studying in America as exchange students from different countries.

The program made good use of modern technology by setting up a Twitter Fall on the screen behind the panel. Using the hash tag, "#OHIOIWeek14" audience members could ask questions through tweets. While some of the questions were lost in the quickly moving Twitter feed, most of the questions were answered and discussed by the panelists.

After the panel wrapped up, there was a reception with two tables filled with international desserts. Attendees were encouraged to mingle and ask the panelists any other questions they had.

ISU students Ashley Anderson and Miguel Gomez were among those people, and said they were excited to be a part of International Week this year. Both are involved in the Latina Student Union.

"My first year at OU I wanted to be a part of something, and I saw a sign at the Involvement Fair. It just kind of struck me and I got more involved at that point," said Gomez.

International Week will conclude with the Street Fair on Saturday. Various international student groups and nonprofit organizations will have tables on Court Street filled with food, crafts and international merchandise. There are also places reserved on the street for dancing and music.

McCallum Beatty explained that the Street Fair is a major sign of Athens' involvement in the international community.

"It is the fact that the city of Athens closes down Court Street one day a year for us," she said. "Lots of other schools have international fairs, but none of them close down the main street for it."


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