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On top of the world

First MU International Day brings global perspective to campus

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  • Story by Karen Pojmann
  • Photos by Shane Epping
  • Published: Sept. 24, 2008
International day

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1. A Mizzou student carries a Malaysian flag, one of 42 flags set up on the Francis Quadrangle to kick off the inaugural MU International Day.

2. Mizzou international students represent 107 different countries and make up 5 percent of the student body.

3. For the ceremony, students appear in traditional attire from head to toe.

4. A student stands beside the Brazilian flag.

5. Chancellor Brady Deaton officially declares the fourth Tuesday of every September MU International Day.

6. Ann Deaton, a former MU professor and wife of Chancellor Brady Deaton, represents Italy during the flag ceremony.  Originally from New York, she is a second-generation Italian-American.

7. Students give interviews and pose for photos after the ceremony.

8. The colorful clothes, such as this Korean student’s hanbok, inspire picture-taking among the international crowd.

8. Asian students make up approximately three-fourths of the international population at Mizzou, with the largest number coming from China.

9. After the ceremony, students march across the campus.

10. Truman poses for photos after the flag ceremony. While the students appear in colorful costumes, Truman wears his usual black and gold.

11. After the ceremony, students march across the campus.

12. Flag bearers arrive on Lowry Mall for the International Bazaar.

13. To kick off the International Bazaar, students place the flags in a circle in front of Ellis Library.

14. The International Bazaar has been held on the Mizzou campus for 33 years. This is the first year it has expanded to the multi-event International Day.

15. The Japan booth at the bazaar includes free samples of sushi and miso soup, attracting a long line during lunch time.

16. Taiwanese students serve traditional fare to bazaar visitors. The free samples of international cuisine provide countless palatable delights for passers-by.

17. Visitors try calligraphy at the China booth.

18. A toy auto rickshaw is displayed at the Thailand booth. Auto rickshaws are commonly used as taxis in cities such as Bangkok.

19. Along with food, the Thai booth offers cultural information and displays of dolls, jewelry, instruments and costumes.

20. International students greet one another during the bazaar.

21. A display of flags stands on Lowry Mall during the day’s events.

The Francis Quadrangle was transformed into a veritable United Nations during the first-ever MU International Day on Sept. 23.

Flags representing 42 of the Mizzou student body’s 107 nationalities stood aligned with the columns. A sound system played a world-beat mix of West African highlife and multilingual pop. Students brightly clad in fashions ranging from Korean hanboks and Indian saris to batik-print dresses and modern suits gathered for a short ceremony and chancellorial proclamation before parading with their flags to the food-filled 33rd annual International Bazaar on Lowry Mall.

Small world

The brainchild of the 5-year-old Missouri International Students Council, the newly established International Day — to be held the fourth Tuesday of each September — is designed to “take MU to the forefront of international education,” says MISC president and graduate student Sampath Devaram.

Organizers have taken the fancy costumery and traditional cuisine of the already-popular bazaar a step further with information booths, educational panels and social events rounding out the day. The goal, Chancellor Brady Deaton says, is to prepare students to become world citizens.

“International dimensions penetrate all aspects of our lives, no matter what our background is, no matter what component of this society we come from,” Deaton told the crowd during the inaugural flag ceremony. “We are all part of a global community.”

Globetrotters

In fall 2007, international students made up about 20 percent of Mizzou graduate student enrollment and more than 5 percent of total student enrollment. Though official numbers aren’t yet in for this year, the MU International Center estimates that more than 1,500 international students now attend Mizzou — an increase of 3 to 4 percent over last year.

Simultaneously, the number of MU students studying abroad is on the rise. Last year about 1,100 students took part in Mizzou’s 400 study-abroad programs. The first International Day included a study-abroad fair, a Peace Corps session and a panel discussion featuring journalism students who volunteered at the Olympics. But participants stressed on-campus opportunities.

“We have talked many times about studying abroad — sending faculty, staff and students abroad to study and to learn about the rest of the world,” says Handy Williamson, vice provost for international programs and strategic initiatives. “We can now say that we are bringing the world to Mizzou.”

Understanding one another

While international students find educational resources at Mizzou, they also become educational resources for Mizzou. Programs such as the Multicultural Community Hour, Conversation Partners and the Pangaea learning community unite U.S. students with international students to help foster cross-cultural communication skills useful in an increasingly global marketplace.

Simple conversation can demystify a culture, break down misconceptions and reveal commonalities, international students say.

“People think we’re restricted culturally,” sophomore pre-med major Shivani Vaid says about stereotypes. “But Indians are more Americanized than some Americans.”

Deaton says his ultimate goal is for Mizzou to attract students from every country.

“Out of this,” he says, “comes an inspiring approach to accumulation of knowledge and the use of that knowledge in whatever we do.”

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Last updated: Feb. 22, 2012