HCC students receive the opportunity to go global

November 23, 2008|By Cassandra A. Fortin | Cassandra A. Fortin,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Lola Tillyabaera shared artifacts from her native Uzbekistan with classmates at Harford Community College at a table set up in the Global Cafe.

As students gathered at the table, she donned an ornate gold hat.

"This hat is called a duppa," said Tillyabaera, 21. "This is the hat that women wear during their wedding."

The hat was one of many things American-born students learned from about 100 international students at the school, who participated last week in International Education Week activities.

Started in 2000, the initiative is a joint effort between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education that promotes programs to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.

The event is a way to expose students to the global economy, said Jim LaCalle, president of Harford Community College.

"The world is shrinking with the Internet, and we're competing in the global economy," LaCalle said. "Activities such as this help the students understand the importance of the global economy. Not only do the students learn about other people, they get a glimpse of world communications."

School officials are pondering ideas to help build their international student enrollment at the college, he said. One possibility is to build dormitories on campus.

"It might be appropriate," LaCalle said. "It could help us to be more aggressive in recruiting international students because they would have a place to live when they got here. Some of the students get here, and they don't know anyone, and they have no place to live."

Activities began with a luncheon Monday, during which Greek, Thai, and Uzbek foods were prepared from recipes submitted by members of the Multicultural Student Association. During the luncheon, a presentation called "This is My Story" was given and included personal photographs of students who attend the school.

"We started the program to link into the efforts of the nation and the world to foster global relations," said Stephanie Hallock, an associate professor of political science at HCC.

Students learned from one another during the event. Tillyabaera was most impressed with the differences between women in Uzbekistan and the U.S.

"Women are not allowed to do many things in my country," she told a group of spectators. "Women don't have a lot of rights. There are more opportunities here for women."

Several of the international students said they enjoy the U.S. but prefer their home countries.

Yeabsera Tamire, a student from Ethiopia, said she has learned that her country has its advantages.

"Families are more dependent on one another in Ethiopia," said Tamire, 20, a sophomore who is studying biology and chemistry with hopes of attending medical school. "My country is also more culture-oriented."

Tamire donned a habesha libse, a dress and shirt that is traditionally worn by Ethiopian women for special occasions.

"We tend to dress up a little more in my country," she said. "Some of the things we wear, you don't see in this country. I wouldn't wear many of the things people here wear."

Other activities included an international film festival and discussions on national security and Russia in the 21st century.

The students also participated in a scavenger hunt, Hallock said. The goal of the hunt was to show the students the international presence on the campus, she said.

Students were asked to identify the flags on campus that represent countries of origin of the international students, find the clocks with times of locations around the world and locate a syllabus with international global topics.

On Wednesday, the Kaleidoscope of Cultures was presented. The two-hour show included six performances.

Students submitted photographs taken in foreign countries, and judges selected the best ones. The winners were: Best of Show - Amanda Lee for "Mt. Eden, Auckland, New Zealand;" Architecture - Keira Gruber for "Library in Athens, Greece;" Landscape - Sharon Lubag for "Cinque Terre, Manarola, Italian Riviera;" People - Dan Barnhardt for "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Athens, Greece;" Nature - Sarah Meehan for "Iguana, San Pedro, Belize;" and Action - Carol Mueller for "Chuka Drummers, Kenya."

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