Written by Mike Thee
January 18, 2019
Image credit: Katie Hofius
If you’re a fan of SU’s annual celebration of international education (and, really, who isn't?), we’ve got some great news for you. This year, for the first time, what was formerly known as International Education Week is now International Education Month. Dale Watanabe, director of the International Student Center, recently took some time to share what’s in store for this year’s expanded celebration.
The Commons: How did the idea for the month-long celebration come about?
Dale Watanabe: We looked at the programming we could do, and through the generous support of other departments, our programs grew to 17 programs in total! We’ve also been able to expand due to the strong collaboration with our newly formed Seattle University International Student Association (SUISA), a recognized club on campus.
The Commons: What are some notable elements of International Education Month at SU?
Dale Watanabe: With the eve of Lunar New Year taking place on Feb. 4, we decided to coordinate a Lunar New Year celebration with our Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Indonesian students. We also will feature the popular “Say My Name” luncheon on Friday, Feb. 15 where students get to play the role of teacher and share information about their native culture and language. We also will have a joint open house in the James C. Pigott Pavilion with our partners at Education Abroad. The 2019 schedule will have more sessions specifically for international students and not just about them. Of course, anyone is welcome to join any of the sessions. Through the work of SUISA, we are also planning a special screening of a recent award-wining film.
The Commons: What do you like most about International Education Month?
Dale Watanabe: International Week—now International Month—has always been one of my favorite events, specifically because our largest annual event, the International Dinner falls as part of the month. A few years ago, we decided to shift the schedule and move the weeklong celebration after the dinner, and this is the first year to try it out as an entire month. The dinner will serve as the kick-off for the International Month and the complete schedule for the month will be unveiled at the dinner on Jan 26. (Get your tickets to the dinner here.)
The Commons: What do you hope SU students, faculty and staff will take away from this year’s International Month?
Dale Watanabe: An understanding of each other and the importance of knowing more about our neighbors. With the theme of this year’s International Dinner, “SU is Us: Celebrating the Unique Stories of our International Students,” we want to foster an understanding that SU, as it should be, includes many different stories, a lot which go beyond our own country’s borders.
The Commons: How many international students are currently enrolled at SU? How many countries are represented?
Dale Watanabe: We have 862 students active in our SEVIS database, with about 200 of those under practical training (work authorization). The university database shows approximately 651 currently registered. Within this group, we have about 65 countries represented, but of course some are only represented by one student.
The Commons: What’s the state of international education, broadly speaking and here at SU?
Dale Watanabe: The landscape of international education continues to excite me and although recent trends indicate there will start to be a decline, we are all still so fortunate here at Seattle University to have a vibrant international student population. I continue to learn so much from them and feel blessed that they have chosen to be a part of our university community. Take this opportunity for the 2019 International Education Month to get to know an international student!
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