URI gives a boost to global education: Five-day event celebrates Cultural Diversity

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KINGSTON, Oct. 18, 2012 – If you want to celebrate cultural diversity on campus, get a better idea of what it’s like to work overseas, or learn about the plight of child soldiers in the Congo, now is the time to register for sessions during International Education Week at the University of Rhode Island.

The five-day event, mostly at the Memorial Union, kicks off Nov. 12. Organizers are encouraging students, faculty, staff, and the public to sign up for programs as soon as possible.

“This is an occasion for the URI community to explore global education opportunities on campus, regionally and overseas,” said Kathleen Ramcharran, study abroad advisor for the Office of International Education, which is sponsoring the event. “A lot of great things are happening this week and throughout the year to raise awareness of all things ‘international.’ ”

The event, in its second year, bolsters President David M. Dooley’s goal to make the University more international and to prepare students for a global economy in a technology-driven world without borders.

One of the highlights of the week will be the unveiling Nov. 15 of a display in the union’s atrium of 99 flags from different countries representing the University’s international students and scholars.

“International Hall” was the idea of Joe Berardi, the union’s building services coordinator, who was looking for a way to embrace URI’s past and current international students.

“This is a big step in making the Memorial Union welcoming to everyone,” said Berardi. “For international students it’s comforting to walk into a building and see your flag and know you are part of the campus community.”

The opening ceremony and reception will be from 12:30 to 2 p.m. President Dooley will speak at 12:45 p.m.

Another session expected to draw a big crowd will be a talk by Sean Carasso, founder of Falling Whistles, a non-profit group alerting the world to the abuse of child soldiers in the Congo.

Carasso is a Los Angeles-based activist, world traveler, and writer who stumbled into a military encampment with children during an expedition to the African country years ago.

He was horrified to discover that the children were being beaten and sent to the frontlines armed only with a whistle to fight in a 14-year conflict that has killed an estimated 5 to 6 million people.

Much of the dispute is in eastern Congo, where militia groups and rebels are battling over the region’s vast mineral resources, used to make cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices. Armed groups use force to intimidate civilians.

After his trip, Carasso launched a blog and a grassroots movement to help the children. His organization sells whistles to raise money for education and advocacy programs in the war-ravaged country.

Carasso’s talk, “Falling Whistles: A Campaign for Peace in the Congo,” will be from 2 to 3:15 p.m. Nov. 14 in the union’s ballroom.

Other events include:

• “America: Through a Global Lens,” a photo exhibit by international students reflecting on their lives in the United States. The photos will be displayed in the union lounge. The deadline for submitting photos is Nov. 1. Cash prizes will be awarded. For entry forms and guidelines, go to uri.edu/international/IEW/photocontest.html.

• “Work, Intern and Volunteer Abroad,” a talk by experts in international business, government, and nonprofit organizations. Speakers will include representatives of the U.S. Department of State, the Peace Corps, Plan USA, and Dream Careers, a global internship program. The discussion will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 13 in the union’s atrium. There is no registration deadline, but seating is limited, so sign up early.

• “Study and Research Opportunities in Germany, the Land of Ideas,” a talk by Aftab Ahmed, research assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy and the 2012-13 research ambassador for DAAD, a German academic exchange program. Ahmed will discuss academic, research, and scholarship opportunities in Germany. The discussion will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 13 at a booth in the union lobby. “This is a win-win situation,” said Ahmed. “You’re getting your work done, having a German experience, and getting a fully-supported scholarship.”

• “Get a Passport and Travel Giveaway,” a workshop that will help students speed up their passport applications. Representatives from the postal service will be present. The $110 application fee will be waived for the first 50 student applicants. Faculty and staff may also apply for or renew their passports. For details about the waiver, visit uri.edu/international/IEW. The session will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 14 in the union lounge.

• A celebration of the partnership between the Associates in Cultural Exchange (A.C.E.) English Language Institute and URI. International students will also display posters they created about their cultures. The event will be from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 16 at Hardge Forum in the Multicultural Center. The Office of the Provost is sponsoring the gathering.

For more information, go to the International Education Week website at www.uri.edu/international/IEW or contact Ramcharran at 401-874-2958.