Students ranging from all different backgrounds and ethnicities gathered for an open discussion in honor of International Education Week. “Don’t Be Shy, Ask Me Why!” took place on Nov. 14 in Schallenkamp Hall for all students, local and international, to answer questions about stereotypes and misconceptions in a safe environment.
“To really increase our global understanding in our campus we need to sit down and talk with people and laugh when we think things are funny,” said Mark Daly, the dean of International Education. “We need to be comfortable with topics we sometimes feel uncomfortable with or we sometimes think are taboos. Increasing that comfort then makes us better communicators.”
Increasing comfort among students of different backgrounds to be able to respectfully ask each other questions is important, Daly said.
“(It was an) opportunity to tackle stereotypes and being kind and respectful with one another,” Daly said. “Not only do they get to learn maybe some facts and check on some things and ask some things they’ve wandered about but I think it’s a really great opportunity to share their answers.”
Yifang Hao, graduate business administration student, said nearly fifty people showed up, none of which made rude or offensive comments because of the discussion they had regarding respect prior to the panel.
“It was really eye opening,” Hao said. “I just wish we could have more activities like this.”
The questions ranged from why public transportation in Emporia is so scarce to what it was like attending high school in the U.S. Hao laughed at some of the questions students asked about stereotypes of Chinese students.
“If Chinese students good at math... If we know Chinese Kung Fu. We don’t know how to fight,” Hao said.
“I always think there is some sort of wall between international students,” said Chie Austin, International Student Mobility and Study Abroad Coordinator. “I think international students do want to get to know about American students and they do want to be friends with American students but a lot of them are worried...They are not sure if they can talk to American students or if it’s okay because of their language abilities.”
The goal of the event is to break barriers and make students feel more comfortable not only asking difficult questions but connecting to one another.
“By American students sharing their information I think international students found a lot of places that they could connect with American students and I think that’s very important,” Austin said.