International Education Week was celebrated at Case Western Reserve University with five main events and several ancillary events during the week of Nov. 12. Notably, Tuesday’s naturalization ceremony allowed students and faculty to glimpse the process immigrants undertake to become United States citizens.
First celebrated in 2000, following a Clinton administration executive memorandum, International Education Week is now celebrated across the U.S. and in 100 other nations during the week before American Thanksgiving.
The U.S. Department of State, which oversees the festivities in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education, describes International Education Week as “an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.”
At CWRU, the Center for International Affairs organizes International Education Week. The Center describes the purpose of International Education Week as “promot[ing] programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the United States.”
This year, the Center employed the motto #YouAreWelcomeHereCWRU to frame the week’s activities. On Monday, representatives from the Center braved the chilly morning weather to hand out apples and offer beverages to students on the Binary Walkway. Adorned by posters inscribed with quotes about studying internationally, the Binary Walkway also featured inflated plastic globes hanging from trees.
On Tuesday, International Education Week featured a legitimate naturalization ceremony in the Thwing Center Ballroom. Twenty-eight immigrants became U.S. citizens in front of a banner that read #YouAreWelcomeHereCWRU.
The ceremony began with remarks from David Fleshler, vice provost for international affairs at CWRU, who stressed CWRU’s dedication to providing students with access to international education and perspective, and the value of International Education Week.
“We try to produce global citizens,” said Fleshler. “This is International Education Week. We asked the court if we could do this ceremony at [CWRU].”
Unfortunately, although the seats were more than halfway filled, few students attended the event.
Fleshler then turned the mic over to keynote speaker Joe Cimperman of Global Cleveland, an organization that promotes internationalism, inclusion and economic growth in Cleveland.
“Global Cleveland attracts, welcomes and connects international newcomers to economic and social opportunities in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.”
Cimperman invited the new citizens to “run for city council,” and take advantage of the other economic, social and political opportunities offered to U.S. citizens.
The recent political divisiveness and backlash towards immigration was addressed implicitly by Cimperman and explicitly by the next speaker, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Parker.
“Thank you for making our country better,” Cimperman stressed. “You picked us. You picked the U.S.”
Parker discussed immigration in U.S. politics, highlighting that opponents can disagree while still respecting one another and underscored that the rich cultural traditions brought to America by immigrants make the nation better.
“This nation became a stronger nation today,” stated Parker before he performed the naturalization ceremony.
After Parker’s speech, the official ceremony began. Every person being naturalized stood up with their right hand in the air and their left on their chest and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. They then sat back down and were called individually to the podium. At the podium, each person shook the hand of Parker and two other officials and collected an official certificate of naturalization. The new U.S. citizens returned to their seats with smiles, happy to be Americans.
International Education Week continued on Wednesday with an event called “The Career Benefits of Studying Abroad,” featuring Rob Stall, Cleveland Clinic’s executive director of international operations. Stall discussed the advantages studying abroad can have on a student’s career prospects.
On Thursday, the Republic of Korea’s Consulate General, Jong-Kook Lee, visited CWRU to discuss U.S.-South Korea relations and other global issues, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (also know as North Korea) nuclear weapons program.
International Education Week’s festivities concluded on Friday at Kelvin Smith Library, with a presentation put on by Tom Mrosko, director of the Migration and Refugee Services Office of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Cleveland. Mrosko discussed the way refugee resettlement is changing Cleveland.