Sunday, November 22, 2009

Park University: International Heaven

From the Parkville Luminary, 11-20-09

Where can you taste Bulgarian and Uzbeki food, watch Spanish and Korean movies, and hear a presentation about understanding Islam? If you were at Park University last week, you know the answer.

All of the hubbub was in celebration of International Education Week (IEW), which is held annually to “celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide” and to recognize “programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.” IEW is a joint State Department-Education Department program.
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Among the many highlights last week was an art display featuring the work of soon to be world-renown Azerbaijani artist, and Park graduate student, Orkhan Miralayev. His pieces are unique and museum quality, and run the range from delicate still lifes to engaging miniatures. Of course, I’m probably a bit biased here, since one of Orkhan’s miniatures, a captivating ancient battle scene, hangs proudly in our living room. His work was proudly displayed beginning last Monday, and will be on display this coming week as well in the Millsap Foyer, the entrance to the underground.

International Education Week festivities continue this weekend at Park. Tonight is the spotlight event—a world festival, featuring displays, music, dancing, and best of all, food from around the globe. I’ve been to this captivating event many times, and it is literally one of my favorite meals of the year because the cooks use actual native recipes provided by Park’s international students. The after-dinner entertainment of music, dancing, and culture is also spectacular. The table displays and dinner are 4:30-7:00 in the Thompson CafĂ©. The cultural performance follows dinner, and is being held in the Chapel. Tomorrow’s IEW finale will be a blast—a soccer match featuring South African players competing against African players at 11:00 a.m. at Park University’s Hemingway Field.

Of course, if you know Park University, you know that every week is international education week, since international education may be what Park does best. We have students from over 100 countries, which gives our campus cosmopolitan feel that few other universities, big or small, possess. We have a number of great international programs, including wonderful study abroad opportunities (a group just got back from a great trip to Germany!), a world-class international music program, and an internationally-minded faculty that imbeds international elements into their coursework.

In fact, a great idea is being launched to further capitalize on Park’s international cache. Called the Global Museum: A Walking Experience of International Culture, the attraction will feature display cases of artifacts and artwork from various countries. The cases would be scattered about campus, and visitors will have a printed guide and be able to take a walking tour. Some of the cases have been purchased and some materials have been donated, but they’re looking for more donations. Contact me at the email address below if you’re interested in helping out.

One more thing I love about international education week is an opportunity to remind my students how lucky they are to attend Park, where they can experience the world without ever leaving Platte County. This last week, we had fun with the State Department’s International Education Week Global IQ quiz ( The 15 question cultural geography IQ quiz included the following questions:

Bengali is the official language of a densely populated Asian country in which over 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Name this country.
A. Bangladesh; B. India; C. Sri Lanka.

Monte Alban, once a center of Zapotec culture, is located in Oaxaca, one of the southernmost states in what country? A. Venezuela; B. Mexico; C. Peru.

These were among the easiest questions. I got 13 out of 15, and an electronic pat on the back indicating that “Secretary of State Clinton might have a job for you.”

While that’s nice of you, Secretary Clinton, I think I’ll stay put here.

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