The Office of International Education (OIE) at Emporia State is hosting a Cultural Connections event at 6 p.m., Feb. 24 in Schallenkamp Hall.

Cultural Connections will be an interactive event, akin to speed dating, where domestic and international students will be paired up, given a question about their culture and have one minute to answer said question.

This event is replacing the Don’t Be Shy, Ask Me Why event that OIE hosted in years past.

Jessica Brinkman, the Study Abroad and Cross Cultural Programming Coordinator for OIE, is hoping for this event to be beneficial to international students as well as domestic students.

“I want there to be a true exchange between international and domestic students,” Brinkman said. “I want both of them to go home at the end of the night and realize that they learned something about some other cultures but maybe also learned somethings about themselves, too.”

This event is geared towards J-1 visa students at ESU. These students are here for a short period of time to learn English and experience American culture.

According to Brinkman there are currently 188 J-1 Visa students at ESU that represent 40 countries. Another program offered by OIE, the “Halfmester” program, lets international students spend seven weeks on campus. During this time, they can work on their English skills and experience American culture.

Events like Cultural Connections are very important to the students in the Halfmester program because they only have a few weeks to experience American culture, according to Brinkman.

Ayesha Arobee, graduate student of business administration and the graduate administrative assistant for the OIE, is from Bangladesh and thinks that these events are important because they keep international students involved in campus activities.

“We encourage students to be as involved as possible,” Arobee said. “When students leave their own homes and they come to a different country, or continent, that’s thousands of kilometers away, it’s really easy for them to (become) homesick and depressed. The more you have them involved on campus, the more you talk to them and make sure they have things to do, it diverts their mind and sort of helps with balancing the whole mental health situation.”

Students who have questions about the event or how to study abroad should contact Jessica Brinkman at 620-341-5376.

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