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International Education Week 2020 rises to the pandemic challenge

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Michelle Manu, practitioner of the Hawaiian combat art of Kaihewalu Lua, shown in a video interview made by UCLA Martial Arts. (Photo provided by UCLA Martial Arts.)

UCLA's virtual celebration of International Education Week 2020 drew the enthusiastic participation of units and students across the campus.

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UCLA International Institute, December 8, 2020 — Despite pandemic precautions, travel restrictions and visa limitations for international Bruins, UCLA’s virtual International Education Week (IEW) 2020 surpassed all expectations.

Surprisingly robust numbers of students, faculty and campus units came together to make this year’s commemoration of international education and exchange a success despite its virtual format. Not only did the week of November 16–20 boast more events (51) than previous, in-person campus IEW celebrations, but more UCLA units than ever before (44) hosted events this year. The virtual observance of IEW was made possible in no small part by the professional IT team of the UCLA International Institute, to whom the IEW organizing partners express their deep gratitude.*

The UCLA website for IEW reflects the broad array of events held by units across campus, together with a special statement of solidarity with international students and scholars that reaffirms the value of international education and exchange in higher education.

Events created for this year’s virtual platform included a global trivia contest (hosted by the Dashew Center for International Students & Scholars); an online conversation with Bruin students and alumni living abroad about their experiences with the pandemic (hosted by UCLA Alumni Affairs); and a Conversation Café that engaged American and international UCLA students (organized by the USAC International Student Representative Office and UCLA Powell Library). Scheduled at times when the greatest number of Bruins could participate, regardless of their location, the three events sparked enjoyable interactions among over 130 participants.

International students were also prominently featured in International Bruin Spotlights, three “Humans of New York”–inspired interviews organized by the International Ambassador Program student advocacy committee of the Dashew Center, as well in four videos created by UCLA student dance groups for Bruins Around the World 2020 (organized and edited by UCLA Academics on the Hill).

Stills from videos made by UCLA dance clubs (clockwise from bottom right: Grupo Folklórico, Chinese Cultural Dance Club,
Nigerian Students Association and Association of Chinese Americans Lion Dance — the virtural version of Bruins Around the World..

The signature UCLA Global Conversation event was joined by over 200 participants. Featured speaker Anna Spain Bradley, UCLA vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, spoke on “Global Racism and the Role of Education,” followed by a vibrant question-and-answer session moderated by Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement. Speaking in her personal capacity and not as a UCLA officer, Spain Bradley delivered a thoughtful, nuanced and powerful presentation about how confronting global racism required examining and deconstructing the power hierarchies that reinforce the social construct of race.

Spain Bradley emphasized that education can provide the proper framing for the history of racism and previous generations’ struggles with its challenges. Education is crucial, she said, “[for] tackling racism explicitly and with an openness to investigating all of its manifestations,” including questioning the education platform from which educators work, the built-in assumptions of academic disciplines and the perspectives reflected in the key works taught by those disciplines.

Other featured events of International Education Week 2020 included information sessions on graduate and undergraduate Fulbright Scholarships and FLAS Fellowships, as well as lesser-known destinations for study abroad programs (“Off the Beaten Path” organized by the UCLA Study Abroad Office).

This weeklong commemoration offered a virtual cornucopia of career events. An International Institute alumni panel featured four alumni of Institute academic programs who now work in, respectively, cacao supply-chain sourcing, international film programs, entertainment industry public relations and social impact consulting.

Other career events explored global internships, global health (with Folosade May, M.D./Ph.D./ M.Phil., of the Geffen School of Medicine), diplomacy (with U.S. Foreign Service Officer Oriana Luquetta, a Luskin School M.A. alumna), careers in a globalized world (organized by the Burkle Center for International Relations), international public policy research (hosted by the Luskin International Student Group) and leveraging foreign language capabilities to enhance one’s career opportunities (featuring representatives of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey).

IEW programming that addressed contemporary events included, among others, the second seminar in the International Institute’s Black Lives Matter: Global Perspectives series, “Global Movements against Racial Capitalism: Conversations across Latin America and Asia and the Pacific” with Christine Hong and Anna Mahler Garland; a book talk by Sarah S. Willen on “Fighting for Dignity: Migrant Lives at Israel’s Margins” hosted by the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies; and “The UN Security Council Veto and Atrocity Crimes” webinar with Jennifer Trahan, Ambassador David Scheffer and Mohammad Al Abdallah, cosponsored by The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law, the Burkle Center and the International and Comparative Law Program at UCLA Law.

In addition to the videos of student performances mentioned above, cultural offerings included an interview with a practitioner of the Hawai’ian combat art of Kaihewalu Lua; a screening of “Face the Music,” a film about Kazakh Q-pop, and an interview with director Katerina Suvorova; a discussion of “Translating Three Generations of Brazilian Authors;” and two conversations with curators of major art exhibits organized by the Fowler Museum.

The enthusiastic support International Education Week received across campus this year was greatly heartening to all Bruins involved in international studies and exchange at UCLA. To discover the full range of events and activities of IEW 2020, please visit the website. We look forward to coming together in person again in the future.

* International Education Week at UCLA is organized every fall by an organizing team of campus units whose work is complemented by the many UCLA schools, divisions, departments and centers that choose to host events during the week. Led by the UCLA International Institute, the organizing team is comprised of the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars, UCLA Residential Life, UCLA Library and UCLA Study Abroad.

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