International Education Week Ideas for 2017

Many thanks to our very own Brad Daniels for distilling 7 great options for this year’s International Education Week list!

International Education Week 2017 is fast approaching this fall! Each year at Melibee, we aim to put out some creative ideas on possible events and activities that institutions can plan for IEW. We want to encourage people to really have fun and go beyond the standard study abroad fair (though those are certainly welcome too!) by delving into current issues, pop culture, and social media. International Education Week falls on November 13-17, 2017 this year, a year that has certainly been full of change–not all of it good. Given the current political climate, we think IEW this year should be especially thoughtful, inclusive, and meaningful. Here are some fun possibilities you could pursue as a way for your campus or organization to explore and embrace the right kind of constructive change:

  1. Tayo Rockson was an international student who started his own consulting company in the US that celebrates diversity.

    Inclusive campus community meet and greet

Are you concerned about the impact of our current national political rhetoric and some of the polarizing events we are witnessing play out in the news may be having on the various groups that make up our campus communities? Now, perhaps even more than ever, it is vital that our institutions of higher learning continue to provide inclusive, welcoming environments to people from all backgrounds. Organize a meetup for your campus community in support of the values of openness, tolerance, and acceptance. Such an event has the potential to attract high attendance as a sort of peaceful protest in favor of values represented by colleges and universities. Use it as an opportunity to show your international students and campus members and those from less represented backgrounds that they absolutely belong and can feel safe and at home at your school. Consider aligning with the “You Are Welcome Here” movement. In addition, Melibee can help with speakers such as Tayo Rockson (Cultural Competency for Millennials and GenX’ers, and Tales of a Non-Immigrant Student Journey: From Nigeria to the US) and Daniela Papi Thornton (Learning Service and Social Entrepreneurship). In fact, we offer many fascinating speakers ideal for IEW and other international or intercultural events. Check them out here.

2. International music dance night

Organize a dance in which the playlist is determined by the international flavor of your campus. Put out a call to your campus community to submit song requests in advance. Aim to get your international students to contribute the top hits of their home countries. Ask study abroad students and alumni their favorite songs from during their travels. (And of course, top U.S. hits are absolutely allowed!) Find a student DJ with an interest in international music to spin the tracks, and let everyone dance the night away!

3. Volunteering at local K-12 schools

Work with your campus unit in charge of volunteering to provide opportunities for your students to visit local schools and extol the value of international study. International students can talk to students about their home countries, and study abroad alumni can talk about their experiences and encourage students to consider studying abroad in the future. This may help build an international education pipeline, strengthens the relationship of your institution with K-12 schools, and brings International Education Week to institutions that might not be as familiar with it.

4.  Home country/state Game of Thrones sigil design

Just because we are in between Game of Thrones seasons, that doesn’t mean the speculation about the end of the series has to stop. Channel some of the international obsession with Game of Thrones by hosting a sigil design event. Participants should design a sigil that represents their home country, state, or city. You can provide paper, markers, etc. to get the creative juices flowing. Consider having a multinational panel of judges select medalists for the best designs, and give out international tchotchkes as prizes.

5. Foreign language film Netflix showings

A fun update on the tried and true international film week would be to show a foreign language film each day, with the catch being that each selected film must be available on Netflix. Follow up the films with a discussion, and make sure to invite native speakers of those languages. If students cannot attend the film showing, encourage them to watch it at home on Netflix and attend the discussion. #netflixandgoodwill

6.  Snapchat intercultural scavenger hunt

This is a great way to get your campus community engaged in international and intercultural thinking during International Education Week. Have your staff send snaps from the various “international” corners of your school, such as your study abroad office, the international student center, cultural student organizations, or even local restaurants serving various cuisines. Then encourage students, faculty, staff, and community members to send snaps from other such locations they find. It will help create a visual map of the international and multicultural flair of your campus. Snaps showing intercultural interactions could be incorporated as well. This is also a great way to start building a social media relationship with your students via Snapchat if you haven’t already!

  1. Mental Health Abroad is a huge topic – Singer Jennifer Cihi and playwright, Stefanie DeLeo, help us change the perception of mental health when crossing borders..

    Speakers panel on change

With everything that has been happening in the U.S. and around the world this year, it is a unique and critical time to stop and think about some of the values we international educators hold dear. How can those values be pursued and strengthened in the face of countervailing political headwinds? How can we embrace change while steering it in positive directions that uphold our values of global citizenship? Consider convening a panel of thoughtful, evocative speakers to challenge your campus community to grapple with the issues of the day. Melibee has a wonderful roster to help get you started!