By Laura McDonough
This week, international students at Youngstown State University are celebrating the University’s first International Education Week.
Christina Yovick, a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Activities, put together the weeklong event as part of her practicum experience.
Making up 2.79 percent of the full-time student population at YSU, international students have seen an increase in presence on campus following a 25 percent enrollment increase.
Jef Davis, director of the Center for International Studies and Programs, has seen similar programs at other universities succeed in promoting engagement between the general student population and international students. He expects YSU to follow suit.
“I’ve seen quite a bit of involvement from U.S. students. There are U.S. students who are members of the International Students Association — which is open to everyone — so we expect quite a few U.S. students to be involved,” Davis said.
Various events are planned each day leading up to the main event, International Students’ Day, on Thursday.
While representatives of India, Africa and various Latin American countries will be in attendance, the day is meant to celebrate culture as well as nationality.
“The day is meant to highlight all students and cultures, international and domestic,” Yovick said.
The mixture of international and domestic student cultures is a result Davis hopes to see come from the event.
“International students bring so much to our campus with so many diverse perspectives and points of view,” Davis said. “We’re always trying to find ways to let the international students have the opportunities to share their cultural background with U.S. students, and this seemed like a great way to do it.”
As of fall 2014, Saudi Arabian students made up the largest percentage of international students on campus at 18.9 percent, with Indian students second highest at 13 percent. Yovick’s aim is to foster an environment of understanding among domestic and international students, regardless of culture.
“It truly helps develop a more empathetic community. Learning about other cultures can help foster better relationships in that people have a better understanding of how to embrace diversity and view people’s unique differences as assets to any group. Learning how to respect those cultural differences which you might not ascribe to is a crucial tool these days because as we graduate and find our careers, we will surely be working with a vastly diverse demographic of people,” Yovick said.