Virtual International Education Week showcases study abroad programs


Matt Barrett

The Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement hosted the Global Pathways Film Festival as part of the college’s annual International Education Week.

By Gege Tan

Emerson held its seventh annual International Education Week, a program that seeks to promote the college’s study abroad programs through a series of events on Zoom, last week.

IEW was initiated by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to celebrate international education and exchange on college campuses during the third week of November. Unlike previous years, this year’s celebrations, events, and panel discussions took place virtually.

Associate Director of Internationalization Initiatives Corey Blackmar said the Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement worked closely with other offices and departments to organize the week’s events.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge for us just trying to think about something that historically has been based on the Boston campus,” Blackmar said in an interview. “It’s a new territory for us.”

He praised Emerson for its “lively” international student community, which he said is large for a smaller school. International students made up 13 percent of the total student population in fall 2019, according to the college’s factbook. 

“IEW is one week where we can showcase and celebrate how diverse our community is,” Blackmar said. “It’s a way to bring people together, to bridge culture and connection.” 

As part of IEW, the Second Annual Global Pathways Film Festival screened student and faculty-produced films shot at the Global Pathway programs. This year’s festival featured six films, including documentaries and fictional stories—some of which featured students working directly with locals to create the projects.

“It’s a fun way to showcase what our students do abroad,” Blackmar said. “We are Emerson, and we love films.”

A live performance of “Elvira: The Immigration Play — Live Performance,” directed by alumna Misti B. Wills, was also presented through a Zoom webinar. Participants watched each actor performing in his or her own settings. Blackmar said that before the play, he watched the actors adjusting lighting and sound “backstage.” 

“It was just as intricate as a real play would be,” Blackmar said.

Blackmar said the Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement worked closely with other offices and departments to organize the week’s events.

Each year, the Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement designs events with scholars from other offices or departments to take part in the week’s events, Blackmar said. Communications Professor Deion Hawkins hosted a debate called “US Involvement in International Human Rights” on Nov. 16, and during last year’s IEW, Blackmar invited a Brazilian scholar as a guest speaker. 

“It always changes year to year a little bit, but that makes it fun,” Blackmar said.

The only in-person portion of this year’s event was a tweak to the Dining Center menu to include global food options than usual. 

“[It] gave a physical presence to the IEW on the Boston campus,” Blackmar said.

Although IEW is primarily composed of academic events, Blackmar hopes it can also foster social interactions. 

Melanie Han, a graduate creative writing student who was born in Korea and grew up in Tanzania, was the co-host of “World Cafe: Coffee, Culture & Conversation,” a discussion panel which Blackmar said he hopes will further the college’s goal of encouraging social interaction during IEW. 

“As someone who is from a multicultural background, I felt like it would be important to foster conversation or just different topics that might arise during a casual event,” she said.

Han, who is interested in writing and poetry, said she enjoyed “The Global and the Personal: Considering Poetry and Writing Distance” event.

“That was a really fun event,” Han said. “As an MFA candidate, I love writing and thinking about how the world in which I lived as well as my own experiences shape the way I think and write. All in all, I think [the event] provided people the opportunity to just listen and learn, explore things that are out of their comfort zone.”

Blackmar said most of the events were recorded and will soon go up on Emerson’s IEW website. He said he believes IEW can grow bigger in the future. 

“There’s a lot of ideas out there and a lot of things people are doing that we didn’t even touch on in the five days,” he said.