Holding over 50 different flags, students from various clubs within Lehigh’s Global Union marched from Coxe Hall to the STEPS building to represent the different countries they are from or have a connection to.
Hosted by the university, this annual kickoff event marked the beginning of International Education Week, which takes place Nov. 13 through Nov. 17.
Colin McEvoy, the new communications manager of Lehigh’s Office of International Affairs, said throughout the world, colleges and universities are participating in International Education Week events to highlight global initiatives and offerings at their institutions.
He said it’s nationally recognized as a joint initiative by the United States Departments of State and of Education that celebrates the lasting importance of international education across the world.
McEvoy explained there’s a wide audience of faculty, staff and students who engage in the week’s events and are highlighted by the university.
“(Participants) include international students who are here from other countries, study abroad students who have studied overseas, fellowship advising students, students who participate in the Iacocca Institute internships offered and also international student clubs,” McEvoy said.
Members of Lehigh’s Global Union set up tables on the front lawn to provide information about their specific clubs.
The tables showcasing the organizations were vibrantly decorated, and some included distinct cultural foods, pictures and clothing items.
Live performances from Helius Dance Club and the Lehigh Belly Dance Club were also a part of the event.
Luqmaan Shaikh, ‘25, an executive board member of the Bangladeshi Association, said it was important for their club to be represented at the kickoff event because quite a few members of the club, specifically first-year student, are international students.
He said it’s important for Lehigh to highlight International Education Week because it exists as a form of acknowledgment and support for these individuals and their communities.
Shaikh said events during International Education Week give the campus community the chance to learn about different cultures and learn about international students at Lehigh.
“Lehigh is very much a bubble. It’s very easy after your (first) year to find a community and not leave it,” Shaikh said. “When you live in a bubble like that it’s very easy to become ignorant.”
He said he walked away from the kickoff event feeling like he learned more about different cultures.
Julian Abergas, ‘24, is the president of LU Kapamilya, Lehigh’s first Filipino cultural organization on campus.
He said the kickoff event was special because he met people who are a part of organizations that he doesn’t interact with daily. Educating himself more about each club’s purpose, mission and goals, he said, helped him immerse himself in various cultures.
“It felt like this pocket of diversity and hub of multicultural appreciation, which was awesome to experience,” Abergas said.
McEvoy, in reference to a comment by Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost for international affairs, said international education is part of Lehigh’s DNA.
“One thing that’s interesting according to some data is that nationwide international student enrollment has returned to almost pre-pandemic levels,” McEvoy said. “There are more than a million international students enrolled in U.S. institutions and I think that speaks to the importance of international education in an increasingly global world.”