International Education Week sheds light on research experiences

UW-Eau Claire celebrates week with forums on campus

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Katherine Kocen, Emily Koehn and Alex Davis share their experiences in Asia as part of International Education Week.

Katherine Kocen, Emily Koehn and Alex Davis share their experiences doing research in Asia as part of International Education Week.

Spending time in different countries and doing research there is an opportunity students have at UW-Eau Claire, and different students are sharing their experiences for International Education Week.

On Monday, Alex Davis, Emily Koehn and Katherine Kocen discussed their experiences in Asia last summer as part of the celebration and recognition of international education.

Each of them participated in the International Fellows, a program where students are given grants allowing them to do research abroad, and were able to do three weeks of research in Russia and China during the summer for free.

Davis traveled to Russia with a professor to digitize organic chemistry documents from the 1600s. Koehn studied Chinese citizens’ support for and willingness to pay for climate change policy action in China. Kocen also went to China and studied Chinese language and cultural learning through community service.

During their research, each of them learned about the different cultures while being immersed.

Davis said Russian people are more tolerant compared to what he was expecting of them. In Kazan, a Russian mosque was on the same block as a Russian Orthodox cathedral, Davis said.

For Koehn, she said Chinese people were welcoming and admired Americans.

“Everywhere we went, we got swarmed, and people wanted to take pictures of us,” Koehn said.

Kocen said she learned about gaining face, and how much emphasis the Chinese people have on respect and authority figures.


About International Education Week

Shanti Frietas is the organizer of International Education Week at Eau Claire and coordinates the International Fellows program and international and national faculty-led immersions.

This year is Eau Claire’s first year celebrating and recognizing International Education Week. During this time, the Center of International Education is very busy and Frietas said that’s one of the reasons they have not planned events in the past.

International Education Week is celebrated and recognized across the nation and began in the 1990s during Bill Clinton’s presidency as part of the U.S. State Department, she said.

“Universities, nonprofits and international organizations celebrate it in different ways, depending on what they want to do,” Frietas said.

For students, Frietas said studying abroad, participating in research, service learning and internships are very important. Many Eau Claire students come from the Midwest, and there is more to be seen and experienced outside of the area, she said.

Frietas said faculty who lead immersions bring lessons back from their time abroad into their teaching. She said her ideal teaching environment would incorporate an international component in each class.

Studying abroad is still popular at the university, with many summer and winterim programs having twice the number of applicants apply than there are spots for, Frietas said. She said added emphasis on globalization and high-impact practices from the chancellor and administration on campus have caused the study abroad numbers to increase slightly.

International Education week is taking place from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday.