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Juniata’s Center for International Education (CIE) is an office that maintains and administers international programs including Study Abroad, International Student Services, Intensive English, and exchange programs. I have been working in the office as a student worker since the summer of 2021. What I have done so far includes: making a podcast for incoming international students, managing international student orientation at the beginning of the semester, creating study abroad information by country, and organizing various on-campus events for international education. The workplace is very comfortable, and I love the people I work with.
Working in the CIE, I have made a lot of connections on campus. At international student orientation, the CIE welcomed about 70 new students from all over the world. During 3-day orientation, I talked with all of the students, and, thanks to this opportunity, I still hang out with them or have a talk whenever we see each other. Some of them knew about me before coming to the campus through the podcast that I made in summer, which was surprising and made me happy. As the CIE runs various international events on campus, I see a lot of the international students at those events. We have been trying to create a space for anyone to come and enjoy the international/intercultural community. At the International Music/Dance Festival, one of the events that one of my co-workers and I hosted during International Education Week, the participants were dancing, singing, and listening together to appreciate music as a tool to connect people. They enjoyed learning about other cultures.
The CIE supports multiple events throughout the year. Multicultural Story Fest is one of the biggest events, an annual cultural celebration of art, music, dance, poetry, and more. This event showcases students from around the world and all of their talents and passions. We also have a fashion show, where you can see beautiful, colorful, and traditional clothing. As an international student from Japan, I participated in this event last year. It was a great opportunity for anyone to appreciate the diversity and cultures all over the world.
Another big event that the CIE runs is Study Abroad Fair. Usually held in September, international students and study abroad returners promote the programs to the students who are interested in studying abroad at Juniata, sharing their own experiences. Even if you do not have any plans or interests, just stopping by the event and talking with other students is great inspiration to make a first step toward studying abroad.
In the future, the CIE is going to run more events for the campus community to learn and enjoy international/intercultural communication and cultural exchange, while providing students with various opportunities for study abroad. In working to create a more globalized campus community, we are always open to any voices and participation from the students, faculty, and staff.
Each year, Juniata holds a Liberal Arts Symposium—a day when all classes are cancelled and students have the opportunity to present their research to the campus community. Oftentimes, international students are not able to contribute to the symposium because many of them study at Juniata for only one semester. For this reason, Grace Fala, special assistant to the President for diversity and inclusion and professor of communication, developed the “Multicultural Storyfest.” This event takes place during the Liberal Arts Symposium and invites international students as well as other interested students to share parts of their heritage with the community.
This year, I am receiving two credits to serve as the intern for the Multicultural Storyfest. I have been working very closely with Grace and a few other students to help coordinate the largest one yet. We will have a total of 19 performances representing the following cultures and co-cultures: African, American Indian, Amish, Burmese, Buddhism, Chinese, Indian, Irish, Italian, Filipino, German, Japanese, Korean, LGBTQ, Maori, Middle Eastern, Pakistani, Salvadoran, Thai, and Vietnamese.
Personally, I will serve as the emcee for the event and also be a part of the performance representing Maori culture in New Zealand. One of my best friends studied abroad in New Zealand, so we are going to incorporate what she learned into our performance. We will be teaching about common greeting words and customs used by the Maori people. Other students will be dancing, singing, playing instruments, modeling, and reading poems.
All in all, I have gained so much valuable experience and many budding friendships from organizing this event. I have been able to meet and talk to people from all over the world!
If you’re interested in attending the Multicultural Storyfest, it’ll take place on Detwiler Plaza on Thursday, April 21st from 1:30-3:00 pm. I hope to see you there!