UCLA holds biggest International Education Week celebration yet

Nov. 20, 2019. Performers at Bruins Around the World, presented by the UCLA Office of Residential Life. (Photos: Guilia Piscitelli/ UCLA.)

UCLA holds biggest International Education Week celebration yet

Supported by 26 university cosponsors, IEW 2019 offered a wide variety of lectures, activities, performances and exhibitions at venues throughout campus.

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By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications

UCLA International Institute, December 3, 2019 — UCLA recognized International Education Week (IEW) 2019 with a wide range of events from November 18 through November 22. A joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of State and Education, IEW emphasizes the dual importance of preparing Americans for working in a global environment and attracting future leaders to study in the U.S.

The weeklong IEW commemoration at UCLA was supported by 26 university cosponsors and offered 45 lectures, activities, performances and exhibitions at venues throughout campus, making it the largest IEW celebration ever organized to date on campus. Snapshots of the week’s events can be seen in the photo album above.

A campus tradition

This year’s International Education Week celebration marked the fourth time that the International Institute and its organizing partners — the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars, the Office of Residential Life, UCLA Library and the Study Abroad Office — combined efforts to create a series of high-profile events open to students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and friends. Several events drew several hundreds of participants, including many international UCLA Extension students.

Chancellor Gene Block set the scene for IEW 2019 in early November, when he released a public affirmation of UCLA’s commitment to international collaboration, education, service and research — a theme to which he returned in his remarks at the UCLA Global Conversation on November 19. The reception and discussion was the signature event of the week and drew the largest audience it has ever attracted: 140 students, faculty, staff, deans, vice chancellors and vice provosts from across the university.

The chancellor spoke passionately at the UCLA Global Conversation about the need to sustain a globally oriented campus — one that promotes international perspectives, supports Bruins to study abroad and attracts both international students and researchers.

Recounting a story about working in a lab while doing his Ph.D., Chancellor Block emphasized that the best research work is done in diverse environments, pointing out that UCLA’s student body enables students to have international exposure without necessarily leaving campus. A discussion of the importance of international education followed, moderated by Jayathi Murthy, dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at UCLA.

To punctuate UCLA’s commitment to international studies, a reception to announce a $20 million gift to UCLA from the estate of Kirk Kerkorian to create The Promise Armenian Institute was also held November 19. The new institute, which will have a home in the UCLA International Institute, will function as a world-class research center and platform for public outreach to Armenians and Armenian institutions around the world.

As in past years, several IEW featured events gave Bruins the chance to meet and learn about the cultures of their international peers. The ever-enjoyable Bruins Around the World event sponsored by UCLA Residential Life featured six separate dance performances (Mexican, Indian, Filipino, Hawaiian and Nigerian dance ensembles, plus an individual Russian robot/break dance), together with international food, activities, information tables on study abroad programs and multiple student presentations about study abroad experiences.

In addition, the Conversation Café (sponsored by the UCLA Library and the newly established UCLA International Student Representative Office) and the World Café (cosponsored by the Dashew Center, ASUCLA and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs) created environments conducive to conversations between international and domestic Bruins over coffee and cookies, with the aid of UCLA International Student Ambassadors.

And for the first time, the UCLA International Student Representative Office (ISRO) organized “Lost in Translation” for IEW 2019. The online activity and poster exhibition shed light on one of the big challenges of international students at American universities: whether to stick with their given names and encounter constant mispronunciation, or to adopt an English name while in college. You can read posts by international Bruins about the meanings of their given names, together with posts by UCLA International Student Ambassadors, on the ISRO Instagram account.

Among IEW events focused on international careers, graduates of International Institute academic programs spoke about their career trajectories and stressed the value of study abroad, networking, information interviews and following one’s interests. The Burkle Center for International Relations hosted a panel on international careers with representatives from the Los Angeles Times, FBI, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and the nonprofit organization Wells Bring Hope. And the UCLA Career Center offered a workshop on how to market study and work abroad experiences when seeking employment.

An embarrassment of riches

Throughout International Education Week, students had the opportunity to attend free martial arts classes offered by UCLA Recreation’s Martial Arts Program and international exhibitions at the UCLA Library and the Fowler Museum. In addition, participating UCLA schools, divisions and departments offered multiple career events, fellowship information sessions, musical performances, film screenings and lectures on global issues.

Two UCLA events organized for IEW 2019 actually took place abroad. The UCLA Alumni Association arranged for three Bruin alumni who have built successful businesses in Asia to speak to UCLA students via YouTube live from Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong. And UC Alumni UK, together with the University of California Trust UK, hosted a successful reception and panel discussion in London on global citizenship in which Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement at UCLA, participated via a special video.

Among UCLA’s professional schools, the Fielding School of Public Health offered a lecture on health services in Malawi and a student panel on global health internships; the UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Center for Global Management organized a well-attended lecture by Aaron Walton, co-founder of the Walton Isaacson global advertising firm; and The Promise Institute for Human Rights of UCLA School of Law, UCLA Luskin Global Public Affairs and two International Institute centers cosponsored a discussion and roundtable on preventing mass atrocities in Sudan, Iraq and Burma.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities hosted a full morning workshop on the diverse European research and training opportunities offered by the European Union. Other campus units that organized one or more events during IEW included the Career Center, the Peace Corps recruiting office, the UCLA Russian Flagship Program, the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and the UCLA departments of history and of Spanish and Portuguese.

Finally, some 18 individual centers and programs of the International Institute hosted events during the week that addressed issues in Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. These events explored, among other themes, population displacement in Ethiopia, socially engaged art in India, political conformity in Chinese corporate governance, Japanese Shinto culture and Gagaku wind music, undocumented Central American immigrants in the U.S, how 20th-century “measurements” of racial differences inform contemporary biometric technologies and the return of the Bracero program for Mexican workers.

Given its location in a global city with multiple ethnic populations, highly diverse student body and faculty, and an undergraduate cohort that sends roughly one out of four students to study abroad, UCLA is a natural home for International Education Week. Feel free to browse the IEW website to get a close-up view of this year’s celebration. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!