Global Spotlights Bring International Cultures to UTC

By Samuel Still, Asst. News Editor

UTC’s Global Spotlight events provide international students the chance to share their cultures and discuss their home countries with domestic students to establish greater global connections on campus.

Sponsored by the Center for Global Education, Global Spotlight events take one international student attending UTC and provides them with a platform to inform domestic UTC community members about international cultures. Students leading the events can talk about various aspects of their countries including, but not limited to, their food, music, clothing, art, history and politics.

The first Global Spotlight of the Fall 2020 semester occurred on Sept. 15 in the University Center’s Tennessee Room and focused on fifth-year computer science student, Maxwell Omwenga’s home country of Kenya. Omwenga discussed the vibrant culture and history of Kenya while also introducing attendees to Kenyan musical instruments, textiles and other items he has from his country. According to Omwenga, Global Spotlights benefit all UTC students, international and domestic, by providing them with the chance to experience new cultures authentically without having to leave America.

“One thing I would tell [students] is that [Global Spotlight] is just one way of going abroad without literally boarding a plane,” Omwenga said, “but just getting a true fact about a country from a citizen of that country kind of gives you that authentic presentation.”

According to Assistant Director of International Student and Scholar Services Patricia Lin-Steadman, who started Global Spotlights in the Fall of 2018, the events help international students feel a part of the UTC community while also showing Americans at UTC that other countries are not always like what they see in the media.

“One of our main goals is to help foster a UTC community in which all the different student populations feel welcomed, valued and understood.” Lin-Steadman said. “Sometimes, people have misconceptions about our students and their cultures and Global Spotlight is a great way for them to show us what their country/culture is really like.”

Nyssa Hunt, a UTC alumna currently working at the university’s Interdisciplinary Geospatial Technology Lab, attended Omwenga’s presentation and said Global Spotlights provide students with a more intimate opportunity to learn about the world. To Hunt, Global Spotlights and other events that establish cultural connections pave the way for students to be more empathetic towards other people and other cultures.

Hunt said, “If we are going to have a more peaceful world and a smarter world, we should go to these kinds of things so that we can learn more about each other and be more compassionate and understanding.”

Students looking to attend a Global Spotlight session this semester can find a calendar of upcoming events here. Due to COVID-19, the Center of Global Education has limited in-person seating available in the Tennessee Room and reservations for these seats are required through MocSync. If students cannot attend in-person, they can watch the event live through Zoom by registering through the links provided in the aforementioned calendar.

For more information regarding Global Spotlights, global education and/or other events featuring international students visit the Center for Global Education’s website here.

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