UIW Celebrates International Education Week

November 17, 2023

UIW has a diverse community that collectively makes up its Cardinal family. Each student, faculty member, and alumni represents unique cultures, religions, histories, and identities – the University proudly calls itself home to them all. Today, 77 home countries are represented in UIW’s student population, and this week’s International Education Week activations celebrated each one of them.

International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education, is dedicated to celebrating the benefits of international education and worldwide exchange. UIW departments, student organizations, and colleges were invited to host events to promote and celebrate UIW programs that prepare U.S. students for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to the U.S. to study, learn, and exchange experiences.

The week’s on-campus festivities kicked off with the annual UIW Parade of Nations in the Student Engagement Center. International students and other UIW campus members carried their home country’s flag around the SEC in a show of both pride and camaraderie. In addition, Dr. Marcos Fragoso, vice president for International Affairs, offered uplifting worlds that invited listeners to reflect on how important diversity is to the University as it seeks to serve peoples of various cultures and backgrounds on campus and in the community.

The rest of the week featured various events that celebrated the diversity that is present on campus, including an international alumni panel, international trivia night, and a campus visit from San Antonio District 1 Councilwoman Dr. Sukh Kaur, who is the first South Asian to serve on the city council.

Monet Moreau, international visiting group coordinator, helped coordinate the celebrations and shared that having Councilwoman Kaur speak with the UIW community was a true honor and privilege. “She is an amazing example of what first generation college students can accomplish. She also spoke about the importance of cultural representation in local government, allowing everyone to have a voice,” Moreau shared.

As the week continued, students were able to learn as they immersed themselves in the various cultures of their peers’ countries. At the Culinary Passport to the World: International Fair, students visited tables set up in the SEC ballroom offering international cuisines to taste as they learned about the foods’ countries of origin. In addition, members of the UIW Bollywood Dance Team gave a vibrant performance for their community to see as they indulged in the different foods offered at the event.

In addition, the community was welcome to attend the campus’s 7th annual Diwali celebration. Diwali is a Hindu festival of lights that is usually held through the months of October and November. Variations of the festival are celebrated throughout other Indian regions as it symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.”

The celebration in the UIW Rosenberg Sky Room included a puja, various performances, a fashion show, as well as a dinner. Dr. Lopita Nath, professor and department chair of History and coordinator of Asian Studies, helped organize and host the event.

“International Education week is about celebrating international students and promoting everything international in higher education,” Nath noted. “Diwali includes several educational components that will allow students and the community to learn about a foreign tradition, culture, language and cuisine that they would not otherwise experience.”

When reflecting on the intent of the week, Moreau shared, “Our mission has always stayed the same. It is to broaden the horizon of our domestic students to the world! This week was an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. We hope to grow our events into UIW staples that will be around for years to come.”