On Oct. 20, 900 students from 87 countries crammed into University of Pennsylvania and participated in a welcoming reception for international students and scholars.
This annual event has been hosted for more than 30 years by International Classroom, a program of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s Educational Department. It is co-sponsored by 43 schools and organizations, including Temple.
“We welcome international students in [the] Delaware Valley area and give them opportunities to meet other students,” said Prema Deshmukh, who worked to organize the reception. “Some really want to meet people from the same country.”
The Museum’s 74-foot Chinese Rotunda was filled with students from University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Temple University, the Art Institute of Philadelphia, LaSalle University, St. Joseph’s University, Camden County College and others.
“Last year, we had about 750 students from 50 colleges and 89 countries,” said Jeremy A. Sabloff, director of the museum. “This event has been very successful.”
During the reception, some students were busy exchanging phone numbers. Most seemed to enjoy meeting new people and chatting over light snacks.
“It was an excellent event,” said Martyn J. Miller, director of International Services at Temple University, who was attended the gathering to welcome students. “I would encourage all international students to go there. It happens every fall.”
Right now Temple has more than 1,300 international students, which accounts for more than 20 percent of the total foreign student population in the city.
Temple also provides cross-cultural events where American and foreign students can get together.
One of them is called “Coffee Hour,” which takes place at the Owl Cove located on the first floor of Mitten Hall from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Thursday.
There is a theme every week, such as “Russian Cooking” and “Middle Eastern Food.” Ten to 15 students usually get involved to share their cultural values.
“The problem we have is that not many domestic students participate,” Miller said. “Probably because they don’t know very much about it. We have to find a way of getting this information out.”
The Office of International Services also offers foreign students the chance to be a part-time member of an American family to learn and celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
Faculty and administrative staff of Temple voluntarily host international applicants.
More than 6,500 foreign students are currently enrolled in colleges and universities in Philadelphia, according to the Association of International Educators, a non-profit academic organization.
The first nationwide “U.S. International Education Week” is coming up during the week of Nov. 13. The goal of the program, sponsored by the U.S. Departments of Education and State, is to promote the benefits of and increase support for international education.
In his official announcement in April, President Clinton said, “International education strategy will help us meet the twin challenges of preparing our citizens for a global environment while continuing to attract and educate future leaders from abroad.”