“What’s your legacy?” is a question commonly asked throughout someone’s life when trying to determine what mark to leave on the world. For Ohio University’s 2019 International Week, “What’s yOUr Legacy?” is not only the theme, but also a challenge to get people globally engaged.
The first International Week took place in 1969 but didn’t become an annual week-long celebration until 1979. The week is meant to engage OU students, staff and Athens residents in getting to know each other and appreciating different cultures, and 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the week’s official beginning.
Diane Cahill, the director of international services and operations and an International Student Union advisor, plays a big role in the planning and execution of International Week and is always looking for ways to expose people to new ideas about other people’s cultures.
“I think it’s important for us to be able to share in other people’s cultures, and it’s important for people to be exposed and understand other cultures that they may not have experienced before,” Cahill said.
International Week is facilitated by the International Student Union, which plans the event every year and fills it with different activities such as food, games and panels for discussion.
The week’s festivities began Sunday with students forming teams and playing in a “World Cup” of soccer.
On Monday, the traditional International Week flags will be raised and students will host an international breakfast on College Green for people to try breakfast foods from all different cultures. There will also be a story time at the Athens Public Library and a TED Talk-style conversation regarding legacy.
Tuesday will be feature a gallery opening, tea tasting, international piano recital and vegan cooking workshop.
Other highlights planned for the week include ice cream tastings, trivia night, the World Music and Dance Concert, and various educational panels with discussions on a plethora of topics relating to differing cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
One of the biggest traditions of International Week is the International Street Fair, happening Saturday. Beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m., the street fair will feature vendors providing international food and activities for people to enjoy. The street fair used to take over Court Street, but because it is planned for the same weekend as Moms Weekend, the International Student Union moved its location to Union Street.
“It just gives the community and the students a chance to hang out together and get to know things about one another,” Cahill said.
Students are looking forward to attending events throughout International Week and walking around at the street fair on Saturday.
Julia Kraynak, a freshman studying early childhood education, has been looking forward to going to the events provided by International Week and learning about different cultures.
“This week is such a cool opportunity for people to learn about cultures that aren’t their own,” Kraynak said. “I’m excited for the events, but I’m definitely the most excited for the street fair.”
Aside from all of the fun activities and food tastings, International Week is primarily meant to benefit the students and staff of OU and the people of Athens, and expose them to cultures they aren’t familiar with.
“I find value in sharing and offering to people to learn about other things,” Cahill said. “There are some interesting things that you can experience for the first time without having to travel.”
Cahill knows she may be biased due to her involvement in the event, but she encourages a lot of people to come to the event to get new experiences and open their minds to new things.
“It’s an opportunity to experience something you haven’t experienced before, and it gives you a chance to make a connection with someone that maybe you haven’t met before,” Cahill said. “Sometimes experiencing something different can open a door that you weren’t expecting to open.”