International Education Week brings the world to SF State

Two students at SF State are laughing and looking at a globe of the world in a classroom.

"People have a natural appreciation for diversity and for cultural diversity here at SF State." - International Education Week coordinator Jay Ward

SF State students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with general consuls and foreign diplomats, sample cuisine from every corner of the world, experience the tranquility of a tea ceremony in an authentic Japanese tea room or enjoy the Caribbean beats of bucket drummers and mallet players -- all without leaving campus.

These are just a few of the events scheduled for SF State's 16th annual International Education Week (IEW), which will be celebrated Monday, Nov. 16, through Friday, Nov. 20.  

Coordinated by the SF State Office of International Programs, IEW is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State and celebrates the importance and benefits of international education in the U.S. and around the world, said Jay C. Ward, associate director of international programs and coordinator of the annual event.

This year's theme is "International Education: Advancing Access for All," which celebrates the importance of global competency and education as a critical civil right and also recognizes 2015 as the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. "We are about access for all at San Francisco State, and we are committed to providing opportunities to nontraditional populations," said Ward. "Patient No More," a multimedia exhibit created by the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, recounts the history of the disability rights movement and will be featured during IEW.

"People have a natural appreciation for diversity and for cultural diversity here at SF State," Ward said. "It's inherent in what we do. It's reflected in our student population and in our faculty and staff populations."

It's also reflected in the more than 1,900 international students from 86 countries who attend SF State. Approximately three-fourths of those students are seeking bachelor's or master's degrees, while the remainder are full-time students enrolled in non-degree certificate programs, studying intensive English through the University's American Language Institute, or short-term exchange students studying at SF State as part of their study abroad experience through their home country university, Ward said.  

According to the Institute of International Education (IEE), SF State ranks seventh in the nation in the number of international students on campus among master's-degree granting institutions.

The University's study abroad program also gets high marks, ranking second in the nation among master's-degree institutions in long-term study abroad programs, according to the IEE.  

"In any given year, between 400 and 500 SF State students study abroad in 28 countries. Of those students, 44 percent are self-described first-generation college students," said Noah Kuchins, assistant director of international education. Approximately 63 percent participate in yearlong programs, 32 percent are in semester-long programs and 5 percent attend summer programs, which last about eight weeks.

"We have a study abroad program for every major with the exception of nursing, so the idea that students can't go abroad because of their academic major is no longer true," Kuchins said, adding that there is a study abroad program for pre-nursing students.

While International Education Week activities celebrate important aspects of culture, including food, music and dance, Ward notes that, "We try to emphasize the academic impact that cultural exchanges have on our students and how it contributes to the internationalization of the campus. Our faculty and staff donate their time and expertise because they recognize the importance of international student exchange, and they want to share their enthusiasm and passion with our campus community."

A complete calendar of IEW events can be found on the Office of International Programs website