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November 22, 2019

You’d be hard-pressed to find an Asbury University event shirt without the phase “Start Here, Impact the World” emblazoned across it. This phrase is an integral part of Asbury’s terminology, but it’s far more than just a nice slogan. Asbury works to actively engage its student body in embracing other cultures and expanding their sense of community through programs like International Education Week (IEW).

IEW is a way for students to celebrate international exchange and culture abroad, and exposes students to new cultures outside of their previous experiences. What makes this event special, though, is its focus on the cultural diversity of the University itself, drawing on Asbury’s international student representation to bring the campus together in celebration of the many different facets of our community.

“Here on campus, we join that celebration by giving students the chance to engage with other cultures through food, music, art and, of course, education abroad opportunities,” said Rosanna Willhite, the study abroad coordinator at the Global Engagement Office (GEO).

Cross-Cultural Experience (CCE) opportunities were a major focus of this week’s sessions. On Monday night, GEO hosted an open house to discuss what opportunities for trips, semesters or other international and intercultural experiences were available to students.

Also that night was an interactive lecture hosted by Dr. Kuo-Huang Han about the use of bamboo in Chinese culture, particularly in music.

“I think it made students aware of what other cultures value in music and how they participate. For example, I do not think [American] culture has an instrument that is meant to be performed by 30 people together otherwise it cannot complete a song,” said Willhite. “That is a collectivist aspect that an individualist culture might have a learning curve with, in order to understand.”

On Wednesday, Asbury hosted more events in honor of IEW about opportunities for CCE experiences in China. Then on Thursday, international students Eliza Tan ’20 and Etta Mawadri ’20 displayed their photography exhibit “Now You See Me” in Asbury’s Student Center.

The exhibit showcased many of Asbury’s international students and included pieces of their stories and experiences interacting with American culture for the first time.

“We put faces to names and stories and talked about their experiences and the challenges they faced,” said Mawadri, “I started with international students, because I’m an international student myself.

Mawadri and Tan worked together to bring the combination of photography and journalism to light on the walls of the Student Center. They say they plan to expand the project to include the variety of minority ethnicities and cultures within the US to give voice to groups that do not have one.

By holding space for new cultural experiences, the University is helping to prepare its student body to encounter the whole world.

Learn more about Asbury’s Global Engagement Office.


by Cooper Boss ’22