Rocky Mountain College’s sixth annual International Week took place last week from March 18-22. The International Programs and Rocktivities offered many events for students coinciding with the theme of “embracing the world around us.”
Amber West Martin, director of International Programs, explained the motto.
“The theme ‘embracing the world around us’ is open ended,” West Martin said.
“The reason why is that anyone can embrace the world around them with a local point of view or a worldly point of view. Everywhere, on this Earth, is reachable now. I think it’s important for everyone to be aware of their world that is an arm’s length away as well as a plane ride away.”
Tracy Mouser, coordinator for Student Activities, shares a similar viewpoint. “There are different cultures, ideas, and points of view everywhere around us,” said Mouser.
“From our classmates and coworkers, to the city nearby, to the country on the other side of the world. The International Week planning team recognized that in today’s global climate, it’s not enough to just recognize those other points of views and cultures — it’s time to embrace them, not adopt them as our own per se, but be willing to invite them into our space and be glad for the diversity they bring.”
The week focused on Native Americans on Monday. West Martin mentioned, “They are part of our world. However, so many people have yet to understand the social and political impact our indigenous people have on our experiences and how our beliefs and practices have impacted them.”
At the opening ceremony during lunch, a Native American from Montana State University Billings performed different songs related to specific occasions.
On the first day, students could enjoy their beverages during a discussion of “Current Topics in Native American Relations” presented by the RMC Debate Team.
Throughout the week, the Institute for Peace Studies let students design their own peace flags.
In addition, from Monday to Thursday, the International Coffee House offered a variety of free espresso, boba, frescas and lassi drinks in the evenings.
Of all the events, RMC freshman Emma Jane Dobesh liked the Coffee House.
“I think the atmosphere is chill and friendly and it encouraged me to interact with people I haven’t in a while, and even participate in the trivia competition and the Keystone XL debate!” said Dobesh.
West Martin continued, “Then, we move on to other parts of the world where culture and customs are different from what the culture and customs are in the U.S.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Mayors Wilmot Collins from Helena and Bill Cole from Billings told Rocky students how they have embraced the world around them. Their request was for students to get involved in their communities. It does not matter how or where they get involved as long as they do it.
The European topic on Tuesday was mainly represented by the Root-Biergarten with Bingo.
While an accordion player Tanja Staben Student Contributor in lederhosen set the biergarten in a European atmosphere, students could win coupons for the German restaurant Oktoberfest in Billings.
On Wednesday, the RMC English department organized the game “Are you smarter than your professor?” at the Coffee House. Students had the opportunity to show off their knowledge and challenge one of their professors.
During midday on Thursday, Tie Dye-versity was a creative event held outside on the Green where students designed colorful T-shirts.
In the afternoon, people participated in a Tabbouleh Cooking Lesson. They prepared salads with different kinds of grains like quinoa.
After that, International Programs and Rocktivities invited students to a Middle Eastern dinner in the cafeteria.
Sodexo offered its own journey of embracing the world around us. They invited the students every day to come on board and experience food of different places in the world, like Barcelona and Shanghai.
The last evening of the Coffee House offered a highlight of the week. One member of the group The Muslims are Coming! showed a movie about the issues, prejudices, and attitudes they experienced as Muslims during their travels through various American states. He encouraged the audience to think critically about important topics.
This also dwells on West Martin´s point of view. “We’re all part of a bigger world, that we all impact it in some way and it impacts us too. We need to talk about that more — what our impact is. We need to talk about the good of the world, the ugly of it, and maybe what we can do about it.”
On Friday evening, a “Fiesta Cubano!” ceremony closed International Week. During dinner, John Roberts y Pan Blanco played African jazz and Cuban funk, causing people to dance.
In general, Mouser asserts this year’s International Week another success. Rocky´s sixth annual International Week covered many different topics and challenged different points of view.
“International Week is always a success when it heightens the campus’ awareness of peoples beyond our own selves. This week did that by changing the decor and menu in the cafeteria, inviting thought-provoking speakers to campus, and celebrating a variety of cultures at the evening coffee house and fiesta on Friday,” said Mouser.
“Hearing students engage in dialogue after the events and discuss what’s happening around them, even if they were just questioning why we’re doing this, made me glad we chose the theme that we did,” she continued.
Nevertheless, Mouser wishes that “more people would attend the events, for we spend a lot of time and money on this campus-wide outreach.”
Dobesh agrees that “students should participate in International Week because it’s a great way to experience a little bit of the outside world, and it’s a fun and safe place to meet new people and learn some new things.”
Amber West Martin´s goal is to improve International Week every year. “I always want to grow International Week, involve more departments, and have more student participation,” said West Martin.
“I’ll always strive to do better, to do more, and involve more students. That’s one of the reasons I am always seeking input, seeking diverse perspectives.”