International Education Week on the Hudson: a Multicultural Experience

by Joseph Mastando

Multicultural flags, a plethora of delicious ethnic foods, and pregnant belly dancers are not of the norm at Mount Saint Mary College’s Campus. However, these were all one could witness this past week as the school experienced its second annual International Education week.

Both Megan Rossi, senior Interdisciplinary International Studies major, and Emily Marmo, Coordinator of International Programs, teamed up to organize Mount Saint Mary College’s chapter of this world-wide event.

On Monday, the events took off with a cupcake social located in the Atrium of Aquinas Hall where both Rossi and Marmo spoke about their intentions for the upcoming week. They explained the upcoming events for the week and, to clear up some confusion amongst the student body, outlined the purpose of the flags hanging in the Atrium of Aquinas Hall, which represented the different countries from which students studying on the campus had come from.

The week continued with Tuesday’s International Food Day, where students ate a variety of cultural foods in The View–not to be confused with Wednesday’s food competition.

The Atrium held another of the week’s events on Wednesday: the World Wine Bar. There, students the age of 21 and older tasted a selection of different cultural wines while eating from a selection of assorted cheeses, crackers, and other such snacks.

On Thursday, the week took a more physical approach as students signed up to learn belly dancing and Tae Kwon Do at Word Workout. As a health enthusiast herself, Rossi encouraged this event in order to promote and incorporate health and fitness into the week’s activities. Located in the Hudson Hall Auditorium, the students learned belly dancing from none-other-than a pregnant woman, Lynn Battle, and, more excitingly for the students, Tae Kwon Do from Mount Saint Mary College’s own, Emily Marmo.

The week’s events concluded on Friday with a Coffee House from 11am to 2pm. There, students could ask questions, eat desserts, drink tea or coffee, and even complete passport forms for studying abroad. Rossi planned the event during this specific time period to include commuters into the events and to inform them on the possibilities for them to study abroad in addition to the school’s residents.

Although Marmo played a huge role in the formation of the week’s events, she could not have differentiated the week so profoundly from last year’s without the help of Rossi who she recently recruited as an intern in her office. With the help of the career center’s Kathleen O’keefe, Rossi quickly took on the internship to complete the credit requirement for her major.

Rossi’s multicultural lifestyle allowed for her fluency and efficiency in organizing the event. Rossi, who will be graduating from the college in December of 2012, will add Sub-Saharan Africa to the list of places she has visited in the world as she travels there with the Peace Corps to educate civilians on HIV/AIDS. Rossi’s international interests have brought her to other countries, such as Thailand, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Cambodia, and China, but the Peace Corps will allow the first time for Rossi to share her knowledge with others on a substantial level while abroad.

Although Rossi will not be a part of next year’s adaptation of International Education Week, she hopes that her dedication has led program in a more progressive direction.

In reference to her passions with helping people and unifying those of different cultures, Rossi hopes the campus’ populace, as well as all else who she encounters on her journies, will keep in mind some words Ghandi once quoted: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Whether or not humanity keeps her wishes intact, only time will tell, but it is clear that definition of culture at Mount Saint Mary College has experienced such a change.