International students highlight foreign cultures on campus

An international student stamps a Kilby student’s passport during the Office of International Affairs’ Passport to the World. The biannual event allows international students to represent their home countries’ culture.

The Office of International Affairs hosted Passport to the World, a presentation of different countries, April 11 at the Memorial Amphitheater.

The biannual event brought in not only UNA students, but also students from Kilby Laboratory School and community members, to teach them about the many different represented countries.

The international students involved with the event each had a board that showed pictures and information about their home country. They also offered drinks and snacks and displayed art, cultural dress and dances, all representative of their countries.

Flags of the various countries were also hanging around the amphitheater.

“The world is becoming more multicultural,” said senior Carolien De Meijer. “It’s important to learn about others and see others’ point of view. It might change your perspective on topics.”

Meijer, an international student from Belgium, was one of many international students who represented their country to attendees.

Meijer said she spent an entire afternoon printing pictures and arranging her presentation of Belgium for those attending the event.

Other represented countries included Germany, India, Japan, Finland, Ecuador, Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and China.

Shelly Hellums, media specialist and technology coordinator at Kilby, was in charge of scheduling Kilby students to attend the event, which she helps advertise at the school and on social media.

She said all Kilby students come to the event whenever it is hosted.  

“(The students) get to meet people they wouldn’t meet in their everyday life,” Hellums said.

Kilby students who attended the event were given paper “passports” at the beginning of the event, which received a stamp at every country’s station.

Meijer said learning more about other cultures has become a passion of hers.

“It’s the number one reason why I chose to study abroad,” she said. “It’s really interesting to see the differences in other countries from Belgium.”