LU takes part in International Education Week

Jamie Gajewski

As frost makes its annual debut and boots slowly replace flip flops, some of Lawrence’s International students will be experiencing their first, dreadful Wisconsin winter while other Lawrence students evade the pain by spending time abroad through an off-campus program. These two elements, Lawrence’s international population and its study abroad programs, are the focus of next week’s International Education Week.
The week is a nationwide effort sponsored jointly by the Departments of State and Education. Laura Zuege, a Lawrence alumna and the current off-campus program coordinator, described the week’s goal as a chance “to raise awareness of international education opportunities through international student exchange and study abroad programming.”
International Education Week officially begins on Saturday, Nov. 15 and on Lawrence’s campus, a variety of events have been planned, which are open to students, faculty and the public. Highlights include Lawrence International’s Ethnic Dinner featuring food from the Americas this Saturday at 6 p.m. in Lucinda’s, a showing of “Monsoon Wedding” on Tuesday at 9 p.m. in Wriston Auditorium, and country profile presentations by current international students on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in Downer’s Barber Room.
For those interested in studying abroad, International Studies Abroad, ISA, will be visiting campus on Monday at 4:30 p.m. in Science Hall 102 and students who have completed study abroad programs will be available for questions at “Coffee around the World,” an open discussion in the coffeehouse on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
While all the events planned for International Education Week make Lawrence seem more diverse than New York, I find myself wondering, how does Lawrence’s international community compare with other schools? According to Timothy Schmidt, coordinator of International Student Services, Lawrence ranks among the top 40 undergraduate institutions for number of international students. After arriving on campus, international students are supported by Nicole Buenzli in Admissions, Cecile Despres-Berry for ESL support, Schmidt in the area of student services and Lawrence International.
According to Zuege, Lawrence’s off-campus programs are an even stronger element of campus since about 30 percent of Lawrence students study abroad for one or more terms during their Lawrence career. When compared with the national average of 1-2 percent, it seems that the travel bug has become an epidemic on, and apparently off, campus. On average, 130 students spend time studying somewhere besides the Seeley G. Mudd each year.
In spite of the current battle between the dollar and the British pound, Lawrence’s most popular program continues to be the London Center, which can currently accommodate 22 Lawrentians each term and has been a Lawrence tradition for 40 years. Another unique opportunity is the Senegal Program, which is available every other year during Spring Term and is backed by the French Department.
Every time I want to flee the country, my mother offers up that she never had the opportunity to leave the country at my age. While I hate to admit that she is right, it is also true that today’s college population is becoming increasingly global. “Today’s study abroad programs are not just language based,” explained Zuege. She also mentioned that while national averages for off-campus programming have increased drastically in the past eight years, Lawrence’s program participation has stayed somewhat static, partly because has long been present.
Recently, the 9-11 Commission has been pushing for more funding and easier access to foreign programs for the nation’s students. The Commission hopes to prevent further conflict and increase contact between Americans and foreign nations through cultural meeting and exchange.