The Pack Empowers a Global Perspective
On November 8, 2021, NC State formally dedicated the Global Courtyard, a gathering space for international-focused events and students. Located between Primrose and Tompkins Halls, the courtyard is also home to a piece of public art, “Dream of Flight,” by College of Design alumnus Heath Satow. More than just a beautifully renovated space, the Global Courtyard is emblematic of the university’s commitment to global engagement — and an international community.
With dozens of relevant courses and almost 100 cultural student clubs, NC State is a hub for international education. Each year, thousands of international students come to campus to further their education, and thousands of U.S. resident students study or research abroad through the university. The Office of Global Engagement helps connect them all with the programs and resources they need.
Throughout November, that includes events celebrating International Education Month. There are discussions about studying abroad, workshops about cultural competence and a winter celebration with international snacks and crafts. By fostering a global mindset and making new connections, students help to shape a worldwide Wolfpack.
“Our diversity allows our students, both domestic and international, to have the opportunity to engage in cultural sharing and gain a global perspective right here in Raleigh,” said David Hawley, assistant director for student and community engagement at the Office of Global Engagement.
Sharing Global Experiences
After going to Prague through the First Year Inquiry program, juniors Isaiah Akridge and Catelyn Meredith realized they wanted the rest of their time at NC State to be globally focused. Akridge became a Global Diversity Advocate, promoting study abroad and global engagement to fellow students. His time in Prague felt like a new beginning, and he soaked in the different food, architecture and language. “Even the air felt different,” he said.
“Being a global diversity advocate was amazing because I learned so much from studying abroad in Prague, and I got to share that experience with people I didn’t even know,” the business administration major said. “It allowed me to have a platform. Everyone should study abroad at least once if they’re able to.”
Meredith joined the PackAbroad Ambassadors, a group of study-abroad returnees. Meredith is now president of PackAbroad, and she wants to work in international education after earning her degree in communication.
“It’s so possible to be globally engaged at NC State even though Raleigh isn’t the biggest city,” said Pack Abroad President Catelyn Meredith.
PackAbroad often uses the Global Courtyard for gatherings, hosting activities like pumpkin painting and a cookie social. International students, students returning from study abroad programs and anyone with a global interest can talk about their shared experiences. Meredith, for example, loves to ski in the North Carolina mountains. At one event, a student from Germany shared that he skis in the Alps each winter.
“That’s a bucket-list item for me,” Meredith said. “For him, the Alps are so accessible. There are so many differences between us, yet everything connects.”
Supporting International Students
Emika Kawagishi has been making Raleigh home this year. Kawagishi came from Osaka, Japan, to play for NC State’s women’s soccer team. Between playing soccer and working toward a degree in psychology, Kawagishi is learning more about her friends’ cultures. Of the 27 players on the women’s soccer team, six are from countries outside the United States.
“In Japan, I don’t have opportunities to talk with many foreign people,” Kawagishi said. “Here at NC State, I have a lot of friends who are from different countries.”
The NC Japan Center within the Office of Global Engagement has helped Kawagishi transition to NC State. Although it’s based on campus, the center focuses on strengthening North Carolina’s academic, business and cultural ties with Japan. It offers resources both to Japanese people living in North Carolina and to North Carolinians who want to learn more about Japan.
Enzo Molina, a junior studying biological sciences and chemistry, is committed to supporting international students like Kawagishi. Molina moved to the United States from France when he was 15. It was intimidating to start a life in a new country, go to a high school where he was the only French speaker and learn the nuances of a different culture. At NC State, he uses that personal experience to help others.
“When I moved to the United States there wasn’t anyone in my situation,” Molina said. “I want to be there for people who are new here.”
Molina is a Global Ambassador, host of the Holiday Conversation Club, a volunteer with the Intensive English Program and a Chancellor’s Aide. Not only does he get to help international students through these organizations — he also gets to learn first-hand about life in different countries. By meeting new people, he’s realized there are so many more cultures to experience.
“Global engagement is not just studying abroad,” Molina said. “It’s being there for the people who are studying abroad. It’s learning about different cultures.”
This post was originally published in NC State News.