Campus set to celebrate global week of cultural exchange

A photo featuring various world flags.

SF State is a national leader in international education and will celebrate International Education Week from Nov. 14-18 with dozens of events across campus.

Dozens of events planned for International Education Week, held worldwide Nov. 14-18

When can you have the opportunity to learn what it’s like to be a diplomat, hear from a journalist who covered guerilla wars in Latin America, sample cuisine from across the globe, participate in the Japanese tea ceremony and practice hatha yoga – all without hopping on a plane? International Education Week, which will be celebrated at SF State — and around the world — between Nov. 14 and 18.

The event, first held in 2000 and now celebrated in more than 100 countries throughout the world, is sponsored by the U.S. departments of Education and State to foster cultural exchange and prepare Americans for a global environment.

“International Education Week is an opportunity to recognize the importance that international education and intellectual cultural exchange play in fostering world peace,” said Jay Ward, associate director of international programs. “We need more opportunities for people around the world to come together and better understand each other, to break down barriers and prejudice and hopefully alleviate some of the conflicts we see around the world.”

International education plays a big role at SF State. Approximately 1,800 students from 86 countries are studying on campus this semester, and more than 450 students study abroad each year, making the University one of the top five in the nation for long-term study abroad. In addition, SF State is a national leader in sending traditionally underrepresented students on study abroad programs: The University has more recipients of the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship — awarded to students of limited financial means for overseas study — than any other institution in the U.S.

But International Education Week at SF State is unique not only because it is one of the largest in the nation, Ward said, but also because it involves the whole campus, from student organizations to senior administrators. Faculty are encouraged to offer workshops or hold open lectures on international topics. The on-campus dining centers feature international cuisine. Student groups participate in a lively cultural fair on the quad.

“It’s not just international students or study abroad students or the Office of International Programs,” Ward said. “It’s the entire campus coming together to recognize the importance that international education plays in our campus-wide diversity.”

One of the most popular events is the Japanese tea ceremony, hosted by Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures Midori McKeon and held in SF State’s very own Japanese tea room in the Humanities building. The ceremony has been held during every International Education Week since 2002, and McKeon says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“SF State has one of the most broad-ranged, diverse and comprehensive International Education Week celebrations in the entire nation,” McKeon said. “We are global citizens. Every aspect of our lives is closely tied to the rest of the world, and the connections will get even stronger in the future. Understanding cultures, people and languages other than one’s own contributes crucially to the peaceful co-prosperity and well-being of all.”

To see a full list of International Education Week events, visit