Winona State hosts International Education Week

Hannah Hippensteel, Features Reporter

From Nov. 18-22, Winona State University will host informational sessions and cultural events as part of International Education Week.

According to Carolyn O’Grady, assistant vice president for the Center for Global Education, this week was created by the U.S. Departments of State and Education in 2001. Since then, Winona State has observed the week annually.

O’Grady’s responsibilities on campus include overseeing the departments of Study Abroad, International Student and Scholar Services, and English Language Programs.

The Center for Global Education serves as a resource for students, faculty and staff to foster global fluency and engagement.

“The way we do this is by providing high quality study away programs; bringing and supporting international students on campus; and empowering them through immersion in English language, academics and culture,” O’Grady said.

O’Grady explained that her and her staff are constantly on the look-out for engaging activities to put on for International Education Week (IEW).

However, the Center for Global Education is not the only department that helps pull this week off.

The International Student and Scholar Services office also collaborates with Winona Area public schools for International Learning Day, where area third graders come to campus to learn about the various cultures of our international students.

Another event this year organized by a Winona State staff member is called “Journey to WSU,” which is a simulation of an international student’s experience as they come to Winona.

The simulation is a comprehensive walk-through of all the steps international students complete, from being admitted to talking with customs officers.

The simulation will be happening from 2-4 p.m. in Kryzsko 223 and 224 on Nov. 20.

When asked about the significance of IEW, O’Grady mentioned Winona’s mission statement: a community of learners improving our world.

“Ultimately, we all live on one planet and global peace and security is possible only if we learn about and care for each other,” O’Grady said.

Susan Niedzwiecki-Pham, director of the study abroad program, also expressed the significance of IEW and the solidarity it brings across campus.

“Having a whole week dedicated to international education is important because it allows us to bring international education to the forefront and inform the community about opportunities and events right here at WSU, as well as nationally and internationally,” Niedzwiecki-Pham said.

In terms of her specific department, Pham mentioned that IEW also provides students with a chance to explore study abroad opportunities that they otherwise would not have known about.

Julia Feld, a senior majoring in recreation tourism and therapeutic recreation, has had many experiences with study abroad.

Feld spent a semester in Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia.

“My study abroad experience was absolutely life-changing for me, and I am committed to doing whatever I can to set up a student for success abroad and give them the chance to have an experience like mine,” Feld said.

Her biggest question to students who are hesitant or on the fence about study abroad is, “When else can you pick up your life and move to another country for 4-5 months and get college credit no less?”

Winona State has over 120 programs in 40 different countries across 6 continents, which is why IEW can help provide students with guidance and information.

The programs at the end of this week include Q&A sessions with Winona State alumni and will offer advice on how to market the study abroad experience to students, both of which will be held in or around Kryzsko Commons.