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ECSU celebrates its diversity with International Week

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Elizabeth City State University staff and students attend a ribbon cutting-event during an International Tea to kick off International Week at Elizabeth City State University in the Gilchrist Building at ECSU, Monday. International Week celebrates the university's diverse faculty and student body.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Elizabeth City State University kicked off International Week Monday afternoon with an International Tea that celebrated the university’s diverse faculty and student body.

Scott Bradshaw, a professor of psychology who chairs the Faculty Senate at ECSU, said during remarks at the tea that events such as International Week are “all the more important as some question the value of diverse experiences.”

Bradshaw noted that the Faculty Senate had recently joined similar bodies from all the constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina in endorsing a resolution of the UNC Faculty Assembly that calls on the state’s congressional delegation to support “a permanent legal status for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival eligible individuals.”

“I think it speaks well for what we’re trying to accomplish with the International Week,” Bradshaw said of the resolution.

Bradshaw read from the resolution’s public statement, which begins “The Faculty Assembly supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and is troubled by the potential loss of their opportunity to continue as students in our universities.”

The resolution also states: “North Carolina and our nation are better off because of their presence. We demonstrate our humanity through our commitment to the DACA youth. The university is a beacon of hope for all who enter its walls and it is incumbent upon us, the faculty, to uphold the ideals that we hold true.”

President Donald Trump has issued an executive order that would end DACA next year. Several members of Congress, including Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., have introduced legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for DACA youth, typically coupled with measures intended to tighten border security and eliminate illegal immigration.

Asked about ECSU students who are in the country under DACA, Bradshaw said restrictions on what universities can ask students and prospective students makes it impossible to say how many are at the university — but he said he expects ECSU has a number of such students as part of its student body.

The International Tea was held in the lobby of the Gilchrist Building on campus. It featured international refreshments, several varities of hot and iced tea, and a brief presentation on the history of tea.

International Week continues today at 2 p.m. in Room 106 of the Gilchrist Building the university is holding the International Forum, which will feature research by five members of the ECSU faculty on areas of global interest.

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m., “The 100-Foot Journey,” starring Helen Mirren, will be shown in room 102 of the Pharmacy Building. The comedy tells the story of a feud between two adjacent restaurants in a French town.

Mary-Lynn Chambers, interim director of ECSU’s international program, said the university currently has about a dozen students who had moved to the United States from other countries and then chose to attend ECSU.

But the university has a goal of becoming a destination for international students.

“We are growing our recruitment of international students who would come specifically to ECSU,” Chambers said, adding the new leadership at ECSU is very supportive of that effort.

“We have not been on the map internationally and we are trying to grow that,” Chambers said.

In addition, she said, the university would like to see ECSU students involved in more international student exchanges.

There is a semester abroad program available to ECSU students and the university also is making the summer abroad program “more of a vocal priority” so that students are aware of that opportunity, according to Chambers.

Kulwinder Kaur, a professor of psychology who has been at ECSU for two decades, said she has been involved in the International Dinner and other International Week programs ever since she came to the university. She said she believes International Week activities have been advertised and promoted better this year than in many previous years.

The International Dinner, especially, is a community event that brings together people from the university and the wider community, according to Kaur. She said the event typically draws about 200 people and she is hoping for a big crowd this year.

The International Dinner will be held Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature international cuisine prepared by members of the ECSU faculty as well as offerings by Montero’s Restaurant, Dragon Buffet and Three Amigos.

Saundra Copeland, who chairs the American Education Week observance committee for ECSU’s Department of Education, Psychology and Health, spoke briefly at Monday’s tea about American Education Week, which runs concurrently with International Week, and about the Education Department’s support for International Week activities. Faculty in the department want everyone to appreciate different cultures, Copeland said.

A school supplies and food drive is being held all week as part of American Education Week. A panel discussion is being held today at 11 a.m. in the Gilchrist Building on “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Being an Educator.”

Glen Bowman, ECSU professor of history, will present a lecture Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in room 107 of the Gilchrist Building on “The Politics of Graduate Education: How Elizabeth City State Become More Than a Baccalaureate Institution.”

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