“Country Spotlights” Help Educate Others About Different Countries

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One organization at Kent State University provides opportunities for international students to present about their home countries. Read one student’s experience presenting about her home country and why others should do the same.

Since 2009, Kent State University has had an organization which has focused on not only providing international students English conversation partners with native speakers, but also creating events and activities that help provide both international and American students with the opportunities to develop knowledge about the countries represented at the university.

Kent State International Mentors, otherwise known as KSIM, is a very popular and welcoming organization among international students as well as all American students who share interests in learning more about different cultures. KSIM normally has biweekly meetings and during some of those meetings an international (or American) is welcome to show a prepared PowerPoint presentation about their home country. Some of the many countries that have been talked about in this manner have been China, Japan, Turkey, some smaller countries such as Morocco and Mauritania, and of course America; these presentations have been dubbed “Country Spotlights” by KSIM.

Haruka Takabayashi from Japan studying marketing at Kent State University presented about her home country on October 15.

Why did you choose to present about your home country?

I didn’t want the audience members to have stereotypes about Japan and I talked about it with others while using those stereotypes. I thought presenting my country would be a good chance for them to discover new aspects of Japan. The audience became very interested in my presentation, which as my goal because it sparked their curiosity. That was my goal.

U.S. and international students attending the Country Spotlight presentation about Japan
U.S. and international students attending the Country Spotlight presentation about Japan

What information did you consider to be most important to have in your presentation?

I focused on some of the information be things the audience has not already known. I taught Japanese English at the end of my presentation and I thought that it was a very good way to grab their attention.

What were some main points you wanted the audience to take from your presentation?

Simply put, I wanted the audience to take away basic information about Japan. As stated before, I focused on topics that the audience might not have known, which contributed to the elimination of stereotypes the audience may have had prior to the presentation. Besides supplying information to get rid of stereotypes, I had to also have some information in the presentation that could catch the attention of the audience. The most important things were that the audience knows afterwards where Japan is located, what language Japanese speak, what the flag looks like, etc.

Do you think other international students should present about their home countries, why or why not?

Of course, yes! When you think about what international students can do in an American university, one thing that should quickly come to mind is presenting about one’s home country. I believe there are many American and international students who want to know about foreign countries. The best way to learn about the other countries is by talking and/or listening to people from those countries.

Watch the slideshow to see other countries featured in “Country Spotlights”

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More about KSIM

Along with KSIM’s acceptance and advocacy of spreading cultural diversity throughout the university, a big reason for why these country spotlights are being (voluntarily) done is because of the outreaching effect these have on different groups of people who come to these presentations. Kent State University has a lot of language courses being taught and most people involved in these are interested in learning about different cultures and traditions, but they do not know of a way to become involved in doing so. Through advertisements about KSIM’s Country Spotlights, there tends to be a certain group of people (besides the regulars) who show up to these presentations and in turn are able to tell their friends about it, thus contributing to the spreading of not only cultural diversity but cultural curiosity.

Even though KSIM is about more than simply the Country Spotlights, such as going on small trips and having some activity nights to also bring more newcomers and keep the interests of the returning members, the Country Spotlights are instrumental for this organization based on the diversity of the people who come to take part in them. We, the leaders of KSIM, hope that members of other schools, regardless of the amount of internationals who attend their respective schools, may be able to give Country Spotlights a try for their own international organizations. We are wishing for the other schools to do this so they can have another strategy to implement in order to attract new members and inform them as well as those who normally attend the events, international and American students alike, about the great rewards of possessing knowledge of other cultures.

Best of luck with your continuation of reaching out to both international and American students about the greatness of cultural diversity; we have no doubt that you will succeed with your endeavors!

Read more about KSIM: Going Beyond Conversation Partners: Helping International Students Make American Friends

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Article written by William (Billy) Koenig

Senior, Teaching English as a Second Language major

Kent State University

ISV Ambassador

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