Panamanian students, from left, Ana Gabriela Perez, Ibeth Pinto and Hilary Howell participate in a ceramics class over the summer at Brenau. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

International Week Nov. 15-18 to focus on Central America and the Caribbean

Nov 10, 2021
Kathryne Davis

Brenau University will highlight Central America and the Caribbean, including welcoming several Panamanian officials, during the university’s annual International Week from Nov. 15-18.

Rosi Ponce, executive director of international strategy and partnerships, said the annual celebration helps build global understanding.

“The way for us to embrace other cultures is by learning of those other cultures through the eyes of the people from those countries,” she said. “This is going to help us become a much more culturally aware institution as well as a more understanding and empathetic institution in which people that come feel respected and welcomed.”

While the event committee in previous years chose a single country, the committee elected to broaden the celebration, said Jordan Anderson, director of international initiatives.

“We decided that it was difficult to focus on one country and decided to move to a region,” Anderson said. “Since we have a lot of students who originally are either from Central America and the Caribbean, or they have family members who are, we thought that it would be nice if we could start with our new regional theme as Central America and the Caribbean.”

A group of Panamanian students pursuing degrees at Brenau through a partnership with the Panamanian government will play a big part in the 2021 International Week. On Nov. 18, a program called “Cambiando Vidas – Changing Lives in Panama” will feature presentations and performances by the students to showcase their culture and share their experiences at Brenau. The program begins at 7 p.m. in the Hosch Theatre on the historic Gainesville campus.

Among the exhibits that will be on display in the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts are photographs chosen by each Panamanian student to signify each step of their journey. Panamanian officials from the Ministry of Education and IFARHU, Institute for the Development of Human Resources, will be visiting Brenau for the celebration.

“The students have been working on this project almost the entire time that they’ve been here,” Anderson said. “I know that they’re very excited to share their culture and their personal journeys with the Brenau community.”

On Nov. 18, Panamanian food will be served in the dining hall, and the students have been working with Aramark to create a menu.

Other events (PDF) during the week include evening lectures about Haiti’s culture and impact on the world, Nicaragua’s culture and features, and the impacts of deforestation and climate change in Brazil and Panama.

Ponce and her office worked closely with the International Week committee throughout the year to plan the week’s events.

“Hopefully, these kinds of activities and events will help not just everybody learns about another country, but also help us prepare faculty, staff and students here to feel comfortable in going to those countries and becoming engaged abroad,” Ponce said. “Then they can feel more confident in their ability and skills to just start exploring beyond our borders.”

International Week events:

  • Monday, Nov. 15, 6-7 p.m. in Thurmond-McRae Lecture Hall: Kombit – Haiti, a presentation by Ted Garner, assistant professor of communications.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 16, 6-7 p.m. in Thurmond-McRae Lecture Hall: Nicaragua – A Cultural Overview, a presentation by Fredy Solis, associate professor of physical therapy.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 17, 6-7 p.m. in Thurmond-McRae Lecture Hall: Rainforest and climate change in Panama and Brazil, a presentation by Rudi Kiefer, professor emeritus of physical science.
  • Thursday, Nov. 18, 7-8:30 p.m. in Hosch Theater and the Burd Center: Cambiando Vidas – Changing Lives in Panama.