International Education Week celebrates diversity at Sewanee


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By Mandy Moe Pwint Tu


International Education week, organized by the Office of Global Education, commenced with a cooking competition at the French House. Two teams, Équipe Enchanté and Équipe Encore, each comprising of three participants, strove to bake a lemon meringue pie from a French recipe that Margot Chauveau, the director of the French House, had found on the internet and translated.

“Food is culturally very important in France,” she says. “The lemon meringue pie is a famous traditional dish.”

The event started at 3 p.m. and finished two hours later when both pies had been baked. The friendly competition concluded with both teams gathering around the dining table and enjoying the zesty fruits of their labour. No clear winner was announced.

“It was nice to see some of my classmates come together and participate in this activity over the weekend,” said Abbie Vaughn (C’20). “I love to bake, and this was my first time baking a lemon meringue pie, so I will remember this forever.”

The following Monday had a showing of a Taiwanese film, Eat Drink Man Woman, at the Sewanee Union Theatre. This event was coupled with the photo contest kick-off, where students and faculty were encouraged to send in photographs that demonstrate the International Education Week’s theme, which was Global Citizenship: Exploring the World Together. The winners of this contest were Wint Thu (C’19) and her photograph “Flowers from the Field” and Sarah Strand (C’21) with “Father Wilkie Has A Dream” for People’s Choice.

A student panel on global citizenship took place in the McGriff Alumni House on Tuesday evening. The panellists comprised international students Clementina Davila Tejeida (C’18) from Mexico, Mikey Plancher (C’18) from Haiti, Simba Chakanyuka (C’18) from Zimbabwe, Komal Kunwar (C’19) from Nepal, and Eddie Chan (C’20) from Malaysia.


Moderated by Andrea Del Balso from the Office of Global Education, the panelists discussed what it meant to be a global citizen in this day and age, and spoke about the challenges they have faced in Sewanee as international students.

“There is the fear to be seen as radical and different when we try to show our cultures,” commented Tejeida, “along with the fear that someone will say ‘that should not be here.’”

“For every five people I meet at Sewanee,” added Kunwar, “there will be one person who is actually interested in Nepal, who will ask me about it, and then will go and research about it. It’s difficult to relate to a lot of people in Sewanee, because most of them have no idea where I’m coming from when I say certain things.”

Fewer than 10 people were present at this event. Later that evening, The Russian House held a trivia night. On Wednesday, the German House had a showing of the film Wer wenn nicht wir, which coincided with the 80s costume party in celebration of Movida Madrileña, a countercultural movement that occurred primarily in Madrid after the death of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

“We just wanted to do something fun,” said Melanie Gamboa (C’19).

The International Education Week concluded with an “Around the World” event where Sewanee’s international students displayed their national flags and ornaments from their home countries on tables in McClurg Dining Hall. With the represented countries ranging from Germany to Nigeria to Cambodia, dinner-goers were encouraged to learn about these different cultures, have their names written in Mandarin, or to learn what personality traits were attributed to the day of the week they were born, on according to the Burmese calendar. For this event, McClurg cooked international dishes for the evening meal, most of them from recipes that the international students had sent beforehand.

“This week celebrates diversity by providing our students the opportunity to learn about the vast array of countries and cultures that are represented in a rural Tennessee town perched atop the Cumberland Plateau,” said Del Balso. “I hope that students will broaden their perspectives and will begin to see themselves as citizens of a global community.”


One comment

  1. I am wondering whether anyone on the Mountain has awakened the international students to the truth that at one time permeated the community known as The University of the South (students, alumni, professors, administrators, theologs, and their families): “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Everyone who passes through the gates of Sewanee and experiences the presence of God which is as thick as fog, is a candidate for heavenly citizenship. Now that eternal citizenship beats the pants of any type of earthly citizenship! Look at The Window.

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