Lehigh students take part in a flag parade through campus on Nov. 7, 2014. The flag parade was the kickoff event for International Week. (Christine Campbell/B&W photo)

Global Union to hold annual International Week celebrations

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International Week will feature approximately 48 culturally and internationally-focused events and help mark the 20th anniversary of the Global Union.

The Global Union will hold its annual International Week festivities from Nov. 4 to 12 in order to bring together domestic and international students in a celebration of culture.

Matthew Cossel, the president of the Global Union, said International Week is Lehigh’s largest celebration of diversity. He said the event started about 17 years ago. 

“The goals of International Week align with the Global Union’s general mission — to bring global affairs to the local community where students can experience international events without leaving campus,” said Angel Oi Yee Cheng, the organization’s graduate assistant.

Cossel said during International Week, the Global Union acts as the umbrella that brings everyone together by facilitating and encouraging collaboration among its member clubs.

The Global Union has between 35 and 40 member clubs, Cheng said, most of which are involved in International Week. Some of the clubs that will be participating are the Indian Students Association, German Club, Asian Cultural Society, Iranian Student Association, Southeast Asia Club and Black Student Union.

In past years, two of the biggest events at International Week have been Diwali and Fusion. Diwali is a show that enables students to become more engaged with the Indian Students Association by featuring dance performances, musical numbers, skits, poetry readings and more.

“Usually Diwali is the kickoff or finale for International Week, but due to booking issues it’s Nov. 18, the week after International Week,” said Preom Sarkar, the secretary of the Indian Students Association.

Sarkar said Diwali has been moved to Zoellner Arts Center and even though it’s taking place after International Week this year, it’s still considered a participating event.

Fusion is a collaboration between the Black Student Union and the Asian Cultural Society that celebrates diversity through performances throughout International Week.

Emily Jia, the president of the Asian Cultural Society, said Fusion is the largest event the club is involved with.

“It’s important because recent news has negativity and animosity between races and it’s important to show that Lehigh is above that,” Jia said.

Some of the other kickoff events will include the flag parade, the global problem solving competition and a presentation by Fulbright scholars introducing their different cultures.

Cossel said he’s personally looking forward to Pushing the Envelope, an event aimed to spur dialogue a series of issues including refugees, censorship and the Chinese-Taiwanese divide.

Though International Week has grown over the years, now more attention is being paid to the standard of the events. 

“In the past we aimed for quantity, now we aim for quality,” Cheng said.

She said the event she’s most interested in is the mock election being held on Election Day.

“(The mock election’s purpose) is to show international students how the election process works,” Cheng said. “Especially since this year is such an important election.”

Nick Razewski, the Global Union representative for German Club, said the club will be hosting a celebration of the falling of the Berlin Wall. The club will have a gray cake to represent the wall, and participants can paint it different colors with icing.

Razewski said this year marks the 27th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German Club has been hosting this celebration in its honor for four or five years now.

“The only way to combat the (cultural) divide is through education,” Sarkar said. “This is the week to do that, awareness is being presented to you.”

Sarkar said her goal is to collaborate with all the member clubs to raise more awareness about global issues and be more involved.

“The over-reaching goal of the Global Union for International Week is to bridge the gap between domestic and international students,” Cossel said, “and have a celebration of diversity.”

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