Cultures come together in forum

Ana Mihajlovic

Issues of cultural diversity and equality were addressed Friday in a concluding Global Awareness Week forum: Intercultural Understanding in a Global Context.

The Association for International Students in Education sponsored the forum, where students from 11 countries discussed a variety of worldwide issues, including terror laws, poverty, AIDS and illiteracy.

They also highlighted the challenge of cultural diversity in the new millennium and identified steps needed for building a more inclusive, intercultural society.

“We need to acknowledge that we all live in an increasingly interdependent world,” said Ken Cushner, executive director of International Affairs, in the opening speech. “There is a vital need for intercultural communication and competence before cross-cultural collaboration is possible.”

This unique collaborative program encouraged attendants to participate, ask questions and share experiences.

“The objective of this forum is to create intercultural interaction by providing students and faculty with experiences different from their own,” said Linda Robertson, Gerald H. Read Center director and AISE adviser.

Shachi Rai Gupta, Indian student representative, agreed.

“The world is truly becoming a global village,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to learn about different cultures, problems and find ways to help them.”

Kristy Steele, early childhood education major, said she came in order to learn about and meet people different from herself.

“I am interested in where these individuals come from, their countries and backgrounds,” she said. “This is a good way to meet people who are very different from us and try to see the world through their eyes.”

Maurizio Sabino, International Diversity Project Member and Graduate Coordinator, said seeing the world through different eyes is especially important for students who do not have the opportunity to study and travel abroad.

Cushner stressed the importance of international education.

“Problems faced across the planet today are very complex and they can not be resolved by one nation or culture” he said.

Contact international affairs reporter Ana Mihajlovic at [email protected].