This year’s International Week has been the largest in the history of the university. The Global Union wrapped up the week with a bang this weekend.
International Week, which started Nov. 7, featured 41 events hosted by about 40 clubs on campus. Featured topics ranged from building a canal across Nicaragua to effective global communication and screenings of international films. Some of the most popular events included the Fusion dance festival on Nov. 14 and the celebration of Diwali on Nov. 15.
As the biggest event of the year for the Global Union, International Week aims to turn students’ focus to a global perspective and to provide the campus with a variety of diverse events to educate and entertain.
“One of the main goals of International Week is to take those international experiences and bring them to you, which is amazing,” said Matt Cossel, ’17, secretary for the Global Union. “It’s great because (there are) a lot of people who don’t have the money or time to go abroad, or they can’t roster the classes, so we bring this international focus and experience to campus so that people can actually experience that.”
Maintaining a global perspective is also important for the work world, as well. Employers today across a wide range of disciplines are looking for employees who can operate with an international mindset.
“No matter what you’re studying or what you want to do, you’re going to have to face global issues or be in a global setting,” said Savannah Boylan, ’15, president of the Global Union. “We’re trying to be here on campus so that students can have those experiences early on at the university setting, so that when they go into the work force, they’re able to be globally competent and handle themselves in any situation that an employer might give them.”
A parade of flags marked the beginning of International Week. The flags displayed the diverse range of countries represented by students at Lehigh.
“I love the flag parade,” said Danielle Hanes, ’16, vice president of the Global Union. “To be able to see all of these people that are so passionate about where they’re from together wearing their traditional dress and carrying their flags, hearing the music and going in and out of buildings—that always just makes me really excited.”
Friday also included the presentation of a peace pole from The World Peace Prayer Society at Coxe Hall. The pole read “May peace prevail on Earth” in multiple languages.
“They’re in most UN offices,” Cossel said. “They’re in places like Rwanda, and now there’s one at Lehigh. It’s just another thing that connects more people across the world, and that’s a very exciting thing for me.”
Cossel also stressed the importance of these events and the international mindset for the success of students in the future.
“Our world is no longer internal; we cannot survive just staying in the US for our entire lives anymore,” Cossel said. “Throughout your life, you’re going to come into contact with people from different countries. If you go to these International Week events, you’re going to become more cultured; you’re going to know more about the outside world.”
Hanes said that being in the Global Union and being involved with International Week has taught her a lot about other people and the unique perspectives they have.
“The more that you learn about other people, and specifically people that are very different from you, the more that you learn about yourself,” Hanes said. “Planning these events (and) working with individuals that are grad students (and) undergrads from halfway across the world and being able to put myself in their shoes, just even for a moment, has really made my Lehigh experience a lot more rewarding than I could’ve imagined.”