The Office of International Programs (OIP) and the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) launched the ninth annual International Education Week on Monday. This year’s theme is “Embracing Challenging Conversations: Moving Toward Reconciliation Locally, Nationally, and Globally.”
International Education Week began in 2000 as a joint effort by the U.S. department of State and Education, although it didn’t arrive at Boston College until 2010, when it was initiated by Adrienne Nussbaum, the director of OISS. Four years later, OIP stepped in to co-lead the International Education Week committee.
“Given the divisive climate in U.S. politics, we felt that ‘challenging conversations’ was a perfect way to discuss critical issues that have touched us all such as race and ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, immigration, and the environment, among others,” Nick Gozik, director of OIP, said in an email.
In a similar vein, Nussbaum hoped that the week’s themes of understanding and community could help heal divides.
“We are very polarized from the midterm elections,” she said. “We thought it would be an appropriate theme for people to talk about. It’s also a Jesuit theme, moving towards reconciliation.”
The highly anticipated week-long program is composed of 19 events. Gozik and Nussbaum arranged for the events to tie in several different academic departments in hopes of attracting a wide audience.
“Many of those leading events are faculty, who are including IEW events in their course syllabi,” Gozik said in the email. “We hope that the conversations that take place at IEW events carry over into the classroom, helping all of us to become more aware of key issues that impact the U.S. and beyond. This entails approaching issues from a less binary perspective and learning to empathize with others’ viewpoints.”
He grouped the week into three broad categories: social justice, global career development, and politics. The keynote speaker on social justice issues, Ali Noorani, is the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, which reaches out to faith, business, and law enforcement leaders. Another major lecture will feature Yoshiaki Terumichi, the president of Sophia University, a Jesuit university in Japan. Terumichi is slated to talk about diversity and inclusion outside the United States.
Several events also focus on developing closer in-classroom relationships, including one student-led discussion concerning the history of racism at BC. Another event, titled “Fitting into the Landscape: Helping Students Navigate the BC Experience,” is aimed at fostering a dialogue about issues facing AHANA+, LGBTQ+, first generation, low-income, and international students. Panelists will include administrators from the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, the Dean of Students Office, OISS, Learning to Learn, and the Montserrat Coalition.
International Education Week provides a unique opportunity to bring global topics such as race, religion, socioeconomic status, and immigration, to a local level, according to Nussbaum.
“It has to start at home,” she said. “I’ve been working at BC for 30 years—this is my community, and I think it’s important to have these conversations locally for them to have an impact globally. If you can’t start with yourself, you can’t look outwardly.”
Featured Image Courtesy of the State Department