Students travel the world in one night

Students will have the opportunity to travel around the world in one night at “Passport to the World” Nov. 18 in the Guillot University Center Banquet Hall.

The Office of International Affairs’ event will feature international students representing their cultures from over 20 countries around the globe, said International Affairs intern Brandie Monroe.

“We give the American students a passport, and they can travel to the tables that the international students have set up,” she said. “The students get to travel the world in one night.”

International students will wear traditional attire from their home countries, as well as bake traditional foods, Monroe said.

“Students can expect lots of different foods, dances and entertainment, and one of our students will even be singing,” she said.

International students will also share stories from their homes, said Cala Flippo, coordinator for international student success.

“A lot of students don’t have the means or opportunity to travel to other countries, so this is a fantastic chance for people to experience other cultures,” said junior Alex Benson.

“Passport to the World” is the finale of International Education Week, Flippo said. Other events during the week include the UNA Peace Tree event, Karaoke Night and Latin Dance Night.

Monroe said the hope is for both international and domestic students to make new friends through International Education Week.

“A lot of the international students want to make American friends when they get here, and our main goal is to retain their overall wellbeing and help them get involved in something they enjoy doing,” she said.

Not only is “Passport to the World” open to UNA students, but it is also open to the community.

Flippo said International Affairs hopes to gain new host families for international students through the event for the students to get the full American experience.

“The host families see the need of the international students and want to get involved and take care of them over the holidays after participating in the ‘Passport to the World’ event,” she said.

Flippo said another one of the focuses for the event is to educate American students.

“We want the domestic students to realize how much they can learn from their international counterparts,” Flippo said.

Monroe said domestic students can benefit from having conversations with international students if they just “take that step.”

Flippo said it can be difficult and awkward to talk to international students, but the conversations can be incredibly rewarding.

“Embrace the awkward silences, but at the same time, understand that there are similarities between the two cultures,” Monroe said. “That’s one thing to expect when talking to someone who is from a different culture.”

“Passport to the World” is a way for these conversations to be started, Flippo said. The international students are excited to share their cultures with the American students.

Flippo said she wants American students to realize they are similar to international students.

“We are all different but in many ways the same, and that’s what we want people to realize at the event,” she said.