International Education events face major changes in response to COVID-19 regulations

International Education Week has been altered due to COVID-19 and academic calendar changes.

“Events will be more virtual with a global focus,” Director of International Education Lucinda Morgan said. “We will not be able to host the International Bazaar this year. This is also the week before most students are leaving campus so we also realize that events need to be shorter and not a distraction from students trying to finish up work and pack before leaving campus.”

Morgan acknowledged that students may be tired of attending events on Zoom. So she does not expect nearly as large a turnout as last year, but still encouraged students to attend in order to learn more about international education and different cultures.

“The whole world is going through so much right now and it is really hard for people to even focus on academics and still find time to take out for themselves,” International Club President Dakchyata Thapa, ’22, said.

The International Club collaborates with the International Education Office to host events during International Education Week, including the International Fashion Show and the International Bazaar.

This year, International Education Week is scheduled from Nov. 16 to Nov. 20 — concluding one day before students must leave campus. Neither Morgan nor the International Club intends to host large events due to the new changes from COVID-19 and the time requirement.

“I do not think that we will try to do anything big with the remainder of this semester (for International Education Week),” Thapa said. “We do not want to stress our members out and we do not know how to integrate our members that are not on campus right now.”

Even if the events must be altered due to COVID-19, it is still possible and important for students to have the opportunity outside of drop-in hours to learn more about international education opportunities, Morgan said.

We do not want to stress our members out and we do not know how to integrate our members that are not on campus right now.

— Dakchyata Thapa

“I think it is more important than ever (for students to be exposed to the global perspective),” Morgan said. “With the (COVID-19) pandemic, we realize how globally connected we are through an unfortunate situation. I think it is really important for us since we cannot go physically to places now to continue to learn and be concerned about how we in our small location understand how we fit into the world. This helps us understand people better, history better and conflict better, which allows us to think about what we can do to collaborate more in the future.”

Morgan acknowledged that students will may have a different experience with International Education Week this year due to the changes.

“I am not going to say that it is going to be the same experience, but I think any events we hold will still bring an awareness and energy to want to learn more about it,” Morgan said.

Last year, International Education Week events began on Monday, Nov. 18 and lasted until Sunday, Nov. 24. Events ranged from guest appearances from the Allegany River Dancers to the International Club Fashion Show. The events were in person and required a lot of interaction between attendees. This year’s events have been altered to abide by the new rules for COVID-19, Morgan explained.

“Over the summer we started talking about what we would be able to do with this school year,” Morgan said. “(The International Club) held a talent show early because of the weather changes predicted for November. Normally, that would take place as a fashion show during International Education Week. They have transitioned some of the events that they like to do to be sooner and online — hoping to keep the spirit alive, but knowing that it will be a different format.”

The grand finale of the International Education Week was the International Bazaar. The International Club annually hosts the International Bazaar for the campus community in November. This event takes place during the International Education Week. Due to schedule changes this year and COVID-19, the International Bazaar has been canceled.

“The last two years, the International Bazaar has been one of my best experiences on campus,” Thapa said. “I am a little bit sad because this event is one of the events that presidents love — getting to experience all of that stress, but all of that excitement as well.”

I am not going to say that it is going to be the same experience, but I think any events we hold will still bring an awareness and energy to want to learn more about it.

— Lucinda Morgan

Fellow International Club board member Tiaralei Cade, ’23, agreed that not having the International Bazaar is a disappointment. Cade is the International Club’s secretary for 2020-21.

“My favorite event was the International Bazaar last year,” Cade said. “I understand that we will not have it because it is not entirely sanitary due to COVID-19, but it does suck because that is the event that I looked forward to this year.”

Last year, the International Bazaar occurred on Nov. 24, and over 350 students, faculty and community members attended the event. Students prepared the meals and the event represented over 35 countries from around the world.

“The International Bazaar was absolutely amazing even if it was a lot of hard work,” Thapa said. “This year puts more pressure on the International Club board because last year the International Club was able to achieve so much and our expectations are so much higher than they were last year to do better, at least, for me. It has been a dream to be able to be president of the International Club, but having the pressure to do better, especially during this time, is hard.”

The club has considered alternative ways that the students could safely experience the International Bazaar such as exploring a partnership opportunity with Parkhurst, having them dedicate a dish to a certain country at dinner over the span of a few days.

Thapa acknowledged that the cuisine would not be as authentic as if a student from that country were making the dish, but she expressed gratitude to the Parkhurst staff for being willing to do that for the students.