Senior Hadya Abdul Satar was recently approached by a Spanish international student to talk about the relationship between international and American students at Richmond, she said.
"She said it was eye-opening that Americans are so busy during the week," Abdul Satar said. "She was here for one semester and wanted to learn about American culture but never got a chance to interact with anybody outside of class."
International Month would give international students and American students that chance, said Abdul Satar, co-chair for the I-Month committee. Senior Rubi Escalona is the other co-chair.
I-Month starts on Nov. 5 and will consist of seven internationally-related activities for all Richmond students to participate in, Abdul Satar said.
The opening ceremony march begins at the University Forum at 5 p.m. on Nov. 5 and ends at the International Commons. It is a chance for all students to show off their national pride, Abdul Satar said.
There will also be a cultural dance workshop, a game night, a talk on community analysis, an international mixer, a fashion show and a closing ceremony during the month, Abdul Satar said.
Diana Trinh, an international student adviser and founder for I-Month in 2007, believes the opening and closing ceremonies are the most popular parts, she said.
"It's very cool how all the students wear their natural clothing and flags," Trinh said. "Then the dean of international education will give opening remarks, and there will be samplings of cuisine from different international regions."
Trinh and Shirley Leung founded I-Month in 2010 as seniors with the hopes of fulfilling the Richmond Promise, Trinh said.
"The international population was just starting to grow," Trinh said. "The university is all about studying abroad and diversity, so for me, it seemed important to share that international culture with the rest of the campus."
The first year was difficult to organize, Trinh said, but improvements have been made since then.
I-Month now involves 14 student organizations and receives contributions from seven sponsors, Trinh said. The student organizations include Ritmo Latino, French club and The Muslim Students Association. The sponsors include Common Ground and the Latin American and Iberian studies department.
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Abdul Satar believes I-Month is important because Richmond students can learn about the world outside of campus, she said.
"We're always so busy finishing papers and doing midterms," Abdul Satar said, "but I think mid-November is a good time for students to get away from the books and initiate these international interactions and friendships."
As a part of I-Month, Laura Horne-Popp will have a talk at 6 p.m. on Nov. 14 in the Alice Haynes Room about her recent trip to Makindye, Uganda, Horne-Popp said.
"I will talk about Ugandan culture, my time at the Circle of Peace School and the interviews," said Horne-Popp, a Richmond librarian for humanities. "I will also explain the interviews I did that are part of a larger process called community analysis."
There is a certain disconnect between the American students and international students that isn't much different from Americans in general, Horne-Popp said.
"I am struck by the sophistication of international students and their ability to navigate American culture and college," Horne-Popp said. "I would like to see that in Americans."
That is why it's critical for Americans to attend international events and participate in I-Month, Horne-Popp said.
"Such events allow for people to come together to see how we are different," Horne-Popp said, "but I am always struck by how these events really remind us how we are similar."
Contact reporter Scott Himelein at firstname.lastname@example.org
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