With an aim of promoting cross-cultural relationships on campus, the Global Engagement Nights program offers a space for international and domestic students to learn and share different cultures by discussing regions of the world and general cultural topics affecting all Ohio State students.
The weekly cross-cultural communication event, held by the Office of International Affairs, had its first meeting of the semester on Sept. 1 and will continue to host weekly events through Dec. 8.
Juli Sasaki, a second-year in art management, returned to participate in Global Engagement Nights this semester after taking a gap year to travel with Development of New Environments, a multicultural program.
“During my travels, I realized how closed-minded I can be and how unaware … just having friends from the same country for my entire life and being surrounded by a lot of people that believe the same thing as me,” Sasaki said.
Sasaki said Global Engagement Nights really influenced her and forced her to keep her mind open.
“I was born in the United States, but my mother is a half-Chinese, half-Korean American, and my father is Japanese,” Sasaki said. “I know little about Asian culture, European culture and African culture, but making foreign friends enables me to know these cultures, to understand how people live and think in other countries, to know who we are and to think about the world in a different way.”
Sasaki said she has a friend from Morocco she met at Global Engagement Nights two years ago, and she just got in touch with her friend again after her year of travel in Africa and Europe.
“I think my most memorable experience of Global Engagement Nights would be meeting people here, hanging out afterwards and keeping in touch with them,” Sasaki said.
Yunli Chen, a fourth-year in mechanical engineering, said she enjoys talking to people from different cultures.
“It’s helpful for me to know what I should talk about with foreigners,” Chen said.
Erik Gaarder, a global ambassador of OIA and a fourth-year in international studies, said there are three committees covering sports and recreation, arts and culture, and community services.
Gaarder said every week two global ambassadors discuss, design and decide different activities that participants can take part in and have fun with.
Megan McCarthy, the program manager for Global Engagement, said they encourage students to submit some movies about their cultures and will show movie trailers in their following meetings.
McCarthy said the Global Engagement Nights could be very helpful for international students who want to know more about Columbus and American culture, and provides them a chance to socialize with domestic students.
McCarthy also said the program is an inspiring chance for domestic students to keep an open mind and know more about the rest of the world, especially for those who are majoring in international studies.
“We found a lot of international students are nervous to talk to our domestic students, and our domestic students also feel nervous to talk to international students,” she said.
McCarthy said some students join study abroad programs after taking part in Global Engagement Nights.
“We want to offer an opportunity for both international and domestic students to have some interesting conversations, share different cultures, learn a little bit about the rest of the world, and hopefully make really long-lasting friendships,” she said.
Students can join the Global Engagement Nights discussion during Tuesday meetings at 6 p.m. in 122 Oxley Hall.