Rocky prepares for International Week, feature by Kayla Solis

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International Week poster from 2014, designed by Maria Isabel Bonilla Uribe

International Week poster from 2014, designed by Maria Isabel Bonilla Uribe

 

Rocky Mountain College’s sixth annual International Week is next month, and Rocky needs its students to vote for this year’s theme.

Amber West-Martin, director of international programs, and Tracy Mouser, the student activities coordinator, have been working together to set up the week long event.

Each year, there is a theme for International Week that goes along with a poster to promote the program. The International Art Contest started last year. Students were able to submit their own artwork based on a selected theme, and students, likewise, were able to vote for an image that would represent the program.

The art contest is a way to let Rocky students decide on a piece of art that will represent the program instead of the art coming from anyone else.

“[The art contest is] another little way to advertise that International Week is coming by inviting students to participate in creating the marketing that we use for International Week,” said Mouser.

“International Week is a way for students, staff, and faculty to explore different cultures here on campus, as well as around the world,” said Martin.

“Without having to leave the safety and comfort of their own home and their own campus,” added Mouser.

International Week began six years ago and has continued as a tradition at Rocky.

Martin said, “International Week was kind of a dream between two offices: International Programs and Rocktivities, and it was about doing something that was more meaningful in a way of programing, opening up minds, opening up bellies – we are very sold on the type of foods that we eat – and opening up ourselves in different experiences. Meanwhile, [we were] listening to what the students were wanting on campus because that’s where the International Coffee House came from – is purely listening to our students.”

Mouser said, “The coffee shop didn’t exist; it was a grill. And so six years ago, students were saying ‘Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice to have a coffee shop on campus?’ So then [we] decided to bring the coffee idea into an International Coffee House, which is kind of what started International Week. That became so successful that Sodexo decided to turn the grill into a coffee shop.”

The International Coffee House has continued to be a tradition over the past six years.

“So along with beverages from all over the world,” continued Mouser, “we also partner with Sodexo to have meals. They’ve done a great job of decorating the space to promote International Week.”

International Week is not the only way Rocky represents different cultures and ethnicities. Rocky also offers international programs where students can study abroad.

“[By] working with international students in the first place,” said Martin.

“I try and engage our students in many different ways, and also reach across to different offices, whether it’s getting students involved and interested to study abroad, because that is a very particular experience, which enhances learning and personal development for students.

“Also just having a spot that can be this gathering place for students, whether their interested in studying abroad, whether their accompanying another international student, anything like that. You know, that’s the whole reason I set up this space like it is, so that it can be a spot to gather and just be able to talk and know that you’re talking to another human being,” said Martin.

On average, there are twenty different countries on campus and there can be anywhere between one and five students from each of these 20 countries.

Sports is one of the reasons Rocky is so diverse.

“[Sports is] a big draw,” said Martin, “because other countries … do not have sports connected to their higher education; sports are completely separate … so it really is when our international students come to study here, or any other U.S. campus, they get the opportunity [to have both].”

“The one thing you want to continually do is change appropriately for your student population … I think it’s important to continually assess. Are we doing something that is benefiting our community, and how do we evolve from that?”

Martin and Mouser encourage students to vote for their favorite artwork piece for International Week. Voting takes place in front of Fraley Lounge from Feb. 18-22. If anyone has any questions about International Week or study abroad, contact Amber West Martin at amber.westmartin@rocky.edu.

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