Samuel Kwapong is the Director of Multicultural and International Student Services, and oversees the personal and leadership development of international students and student affinity clubs on the PLNU campus.
Q: What is International Education Week and how did it come about at PLNU?
A: International Education Week is an international celebration. So here in the United States it is a different week than when we do it here at Point Loma. In the United States it’s around Nov. 17. Every university all over the country celebrates International Education Week at the same time. For us here at Point Loma, because we don’t have a football team, our homecoming is a little bit later on in the year so we can play basketball. So our homecoming falls within the same week of International Education Week. In the past years, International Education Week has only been celebrated on Monday, which makes it International Education Day. When I first got this job, I was not very happy about that. So what we ended up doing was have Point Loma pick our own week to do International Education Week. At any other school, it is a campus wide event, but we have only been doing this for three years now, so hopefully pretty soon it can be an all campus event and everybody on campus will shut everything down for International Education Week.
Q: What is the main purpose of International Education Week?
A: What we try to do, especially this year more than anything, is to sort of combine International Education Week with when LoveWorks applications are due. So the purpose is to give students a taste of the world and then we say “now go.” So the idea of this week is for students to have a thirst for internationalism and that when they say, “I want to do something, what can I do?” I will say, “I’m glad you asked! There’s study abroad and we have LoveWorks.” We are hoping that this would be a catalyst for students. We try to make sure we have those connections.
Q: What do you hope the students, faculty, and community learns from International Education Week?
To want to learn another culture, to learn not to judge. Because I know one of the [international] students didn’t know what Halloween was and people are judgmental. We have about 80 international students on campus right now and I would tell you that they feel like people don’t understand them. And it’s okay to not understand them, you can come and ask questions but not knowing, not being educated about that tends to make people judgmental. The international students did their homework on America and it just kind of sucks that Americans didn’t do their homework on other countries. So this is an education week. I know we have fun and we eat different food but you should learn about every country.