For Global Engagement Day this year, I went to an event regarding International Students and their experiences at OU. Going into the event, I thought it would be a conversation with international students and American students, with an emphasis on how their experience here could be improved. This was the original intent I believe, however the actual event was about two international students and forty or so American students. We all sat around a long conference table, with extra chairs pulled up around the side, facing the two at the end. I stood in the back.
While there was progressive conversation, it was not quite the dialogue I was hoping for. This is an extremely important issue on campus (and in our society), but we must approach it from the right angle. A simple, one-sided question and answer does not provide the level of conversation needed to fully learn and grow from each other. Pedro and I work side-by-side, he in the International Student Services office and I in the Education Abroad office – and that is the kind of relationship that has opened both of our minds to different types of people. Interacting, speaking on a daily basis, and sharing stories when we get the chance.
Overall, good questions were asked, and good answers were given, but I would still like to see this event grow in the future. We have the opportunity as a university, particularly one that is bustling with students from all over the world, to truly learn something from one another.