The public and students at The University of Texas-Pan American celebrated the importance of cultural awareness during International Days Nov. 15-16.
The theme this year was "Internationalizing the Campus." The 12th annual event was a part of International Education Week, a national campaign led by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education.
International Days, hosted by The Office of International Programs, provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness of global cultural issues at the University.
International Days kicked off with the Provost Awards banquet held Nov. 12. The Provost's Award for International Studies is a university-level honor awarded jointly by The Office of the Provost and The Office of International Programs.
"This award recognizes faculty members for their efforts in promoting international and global studies through teaching, research, and/or service," said Dr. Sandra Hansmann, director of The Office of International Programs. "Our various colleges identify a college-level nominee, and a selection committee chooses the university award recipient. Each nominee must demonstrate a strong global perspective in his or her work, with outstanding accomplishments in international studies."
This year's Provost's Award for International Studies university award went to Dr. S. George Vincentnathan, chair of the Department of Criminal Justice of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, who was commended for his commitment to infusing international and comparative perspectives throughout his academic endeavors.
A study abroad fair was held on Nov. 15 at the Student Union and featured several booths with information on study abroad opportunities in countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain and Morocco.
"Study abroad is definitely for students who are interested in travel, who want to learn from a different outlook," said Sara Bularzik, program manager with Center for Academic Programs Abroad (CAPA), which is the host institution in Florence, Italy. "Maybe you're an art or a history student, but if you get to learn about these subjects in another country, you'll get to open your mind to a much different perspective."
UTPA faculty members Dr. Lorenzo Pace, professor of art, and Dr. Robert Bradley, assistant professor of art, treated students, faculty and staff to a presentation and lecture on "The Segundo Simposio Internacional de Escultura 'Bicentenario' Cajamarca," which told the story of the first contact between the Inca emperor and the Spanish conquistadores through music, dance and dramatic performances.
Pace and Bradley plan to travel to Cajamarca, Peru in July to participate in the country's "Fiestas Patrias 2013" where Pace will participate in an international sculpture contest, which will pay homage to one of Peru's historical events.
"I think events like International Days are really important because they give you a taste of other cultures," said Bradley.
Cultural Night, held that evening, served as a forum for expanding community awareness and appreciation of the varied cultural influences and communities in our region through engaging music, dance, and dramatic performances.
"The year's event featured dancers from India and the Middle East, the Divinitus Chorale from the Philippines, traditional and modern Chinese dances to name a few," said Hansmann. "Cultural Night is an annual community engagement event designed to bring a bit of the world to our campus."
International Days concluded on Nov. 16 with the Study Abroad Closing Ceremony and Reunion Reception. The ceremony reunited students, staff, and faculty members who studied overseas together during the 2011-2012 academic year, giving them an opportunity to reconnect and revisit the enriching experience of international education.
"This ceremony fosters a sense of pride and unique identity among students who have traveled for international education, and lets them share their common bond with friends and family members in attendance, as well as with members of the International Women's Board who provided scholarship support for their studies," said Hansmann.