International Education Week encourages global perspectives on BYU campus

The David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies works to raise global awareness at BYU and help students find international experiences. The Kennedy Center is one of many on-campus affiliates for BYU’s International Education Week. (Trevor Myers)

Each year, educational institutions participate in an International Education Week as part of a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. 

The goal of this week-long event is to “prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad,” according to the official website.

On-campus affiliates of International Education Week at BYU include Multicultural Student Services, International Student and Scholar Services, the Kennedy Center for International Studies and the Office of Belonging

Sam Brown, director of International Student and Scholar Services at BYU, said IEW is being “celebrated across campuses all over the country and world this week as a unified effort to recognize the benefits of international education.”

Within the BYU community, Brown said IEW aims to help students understand what opportunities are available to help them learn from global perspectives. 

Throughout the week, students around campus have had the chance to attend booths, activities and workshops. Other events set to continue through the remainder of the week include cultural performances, service projects, lectures and movie nights.

Cory Leonard, co-chair of BYU’s IEW Committee and associate director of Special Programs at the Kennedy Center, said BYU has been part of IEW for more than 30 years. 

Leonard said he wants students to know that these resources are available year-round, not just during IEW. “This is a week where we’re trying to raise the visibility for all of the resources and things on campus that people may not always be thinking about,” Leonard said.

The availability of resources, both for international students and for students who wish to have global and international experiences, can improve student experiences. 

“Many international students deal with a lot of barriers and hurdles that other students don’t,” Leonard said. 

International students such as Georgia McGrath from Yorkshire, England, are familiar with some of those barriers and hurdles. 

McGrath advised other international students to take the international orientation class their first semester to make more international friends.

“Get to know your advisor and the International Student and Scholar Services office,” McGrath said. “They’re the nicest people ever and understand the struggle.”

On-campus affiliates of International Education Week at BYU include Multicultural Student Services, International Student and Scholar Services, the Kennedy Center for International Studies and the Office of Belonging. These resources and centers are available for students year-round, but all play a part in International Education Week. (Created in Canva by Trevor Myers)

The ISSS office can advise international students with their visa paperwork. They also work to help international students feel valued on campus and to help them have a more enriching experience at BYU, according to Brown. 

As the director of ISSS, Brown said, “I get to help support our amazing international students, visiting faculty and scholars, refugees, asylee and undocumented populations in their educational endeavors.”

Other resources from the Kennedy Center can help BYU students have their own international experiences. Leonard said study abroad programs and international internship experiences can be affordable for every student at BYU. 

“We’re very fortunate to have the resources and to have the faculty expertise,” Leonard said. “What people don’t realize is that a study abroad or an international internship will change your life. It will create opportunities for you that you will not have if you stay in Provo.”

Leonard emphasized the global nature of BYU, as it is known for teaching several less commonly taught languages and being the home of five federally-funded national centers of excellence.

To get started on their own international journey, Leonard encourages students to check their eligibility for international affairs scholarships by taking a survey through the Kennedy Center.

Brown said, “We hope the idea that ‘the world is our campus’ is something everyone considers for themselves this week and beyond,” 

Encouraging other students to think more globally, Brown urged students to be more open-minded and look for opportunities to learn more about the world and its people. Leonard urged students to reach out to international students and make new friends.

“I hope our international students feel loved and that they are a valued part of our community,” Brown said. “I hope that all who participate in the many activities we have this week — both academic and co-curricular — will walk away feeling a strong sense of global citizenry.”

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