College to host first International Week

by Kristen Grauer | 11/17/03 6:00am

Dartmouth will celebrate the nationally recognized International Week for the first time, starting today. The event will consist of student panels, an international fair, an international dress day, open houses and a bazaar.

Flora Powell, administrative assistant in the International Office, developed the program after being surprised at the "lack of cooperation on a group event" hosted by several cultural groups when she came to Dartmouth last year.

She spoke fondly of her alma mater, Colgate, as having impressive events sponsored by multiple cultural groups and other colleges such as Franklin and Marshall, which has an entire week dedicated to an international fair.

Aida Gil '07, a student intern helping Powell to organize the event, said she also saw a lack of cooperation.

"Dartmouth has a lot of cultures on campus, and I was surprised that there was nothing that conglomerated all of them. People are looking to share cultures; we needed an event that allows them to come together and do so collectively," she said.

These sentiments, along with Powell's initiative, brought International Week to Dartmouth.

The International Fair, titled "Around the World in 120 Minutes," will include performances by Alia Thabit, who teaches Middle Eastern belly dancing in White River Junction, and Gerd Hirschmann, an Argentino Tango instructor.

Another particularly enticing component of International Week is the array of cultural foods that will be provided by dining services. The meals will reflect the culture discussed in the panels. These panels will be moderated by professors and will feature students talking about their experiences abroad or discussions on cultural issues. Also, the Hopkins Center is sponsoring the showcasing of two foreign movies: "In July" and "Yojimbo."

A joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, International Week started in Nov. 2000 as a way to recognize the importance of international education and understanding worldwide.

According to the State and Education departments, the goal of International Week is to integrate Americans into the global community and to attract future leaders to study in the United States.

To promote the celebration of the week among high schools and colleges across the nation, the federal government has issued grants to help schools pay for the events. Dartmouth's application for a grant was denied, and thus, many of the events are directly sponsored by the departments involved.

The overall financial sponsors are the John Sloan Dickey Center, the International Office, the Office of Off-Campus Programs and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity.

Despite the generous funding of many offices and departments, bringing International Week to Dartmouth was no easy feat. Powell has been working on the project with student interns since she initiated it in April.

"I hope students will get an appreciation of the international cultures that are out there and also here on campus. Ultimately, I'd like to see something like this done every year -- to start a new tradition," she said.