Take in the international perspective this week

There’s a stereotype among other countries that Americans are rude, greedy and fat. They don’t care about other cultures and are unwilling to learn other languages. They expect everyone else to acquiesce to the American way and refuse to appreciate any other way of doing things.

If the low attendance at some of this week’s International Education Week events is any indication, these stereotypes might not be so off the mark.

But that’s precisely what makes having an International Education Week so important. Students need to be aware of the opportunities available to them and also the importance of taking these opportunities.

Studying abroad, the topic of several of the week’s discussions, is an excellent way to gain a greater understanding of the world. Whether it’s heading off to London for a month or Italy for a year, the point is, when immersed in another culture it’s impossible not to learn from it.

So, whether it’s learning a second language from a host family or just gaining an appreciation for classic architecture by touring cathedrals and museums older than this country, taking the time to appreciate another area of the world makes anyone a more well-rounded individual. That’s why promoting it so heavily throughout the year and especially this week is important for Kent State students.

Face it, many students didn’t grow up summering on Italian beaches or making semi-annual trips to Paris. They aren’t going to spend their summer backpacking in Europe. They’re going to be working. Some will go to their grave without leaving the shores of this country and many without acquiring a second language.

But in a global business environment, such as the world we live in, these things could hold students back from the dreams they want to achieve. It’s great to see the university pushing students to do something more with their time here.

As the world becomes increasingly smaller, students need to broaden their interests and experiences. Even if they can’t get off this continent to study in Europe, attending some of this week’s events, where current international students, teachers or scholars are discussing life in their countries, will make a difference. Any exposure to differing viewpoints and worldviews is good.

It’s important to know the cultures of the people you work and visit with.

Don’t be an “ignorant American.” We never want to see anyone walking around Japan wearing a Kent State T-shirt and pointing at people. They’ll think it’s rude. And it will be rude that the American couldn’t be bothered to learn about what is faux pas and rude in that country.

To broaden your horizons, visit the Office of International affairs Web site at http://dept.kent.edu/oia/ to see what International Educational Week events are happening today or tomorrow.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.