After a school year in which a long-running global cultural literacy program was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UA students gathered once again this semester to share and learn about various international cultures.
Global Series is an international-student based program with events Wednesday nights in the Holcombe Hall living room, in which international students and others teach attendees about their cultures through presentations, food offerings, performances and more. Because of restrictions on campus gatherings and the fact that Holcombe Hall housed COVID-19 positive students during the 2020-21 school year, the program took a one-year hiatus.
Since Global Series’ inception more than 10 years ago, its events have featured speakers from countries across the world, including the Philippines, Japan and Bolivia. An event the evening of Dec. 1 was the last of the fall semester, and gatherings will begin again in the spring semester.
Shemsa Ndahiro Iribagiza, the graduate assistant for Holcombe and Futrall Halls, has organized and planned the Global Series events since starting her job back in July.
“I was interested in doing this (because) I’m doing a higher education program and I’m interested in international education and working with international students, as an international student myself,” Ndahiro Iribagiza said.
Mahir Kamal, a technology management student, gave a presentation on Bangladesh at a previous event. Kamal enjoyed presenting about the culture, celebrations and religious traditions of his home country, he said.
Kamal has been a regular Global Series attendee this semester.
“The Global Series gets to give you a different perspective,” Kamal said. “You get to learn about cultures, different countries and how the lifestyle is there and how people live there. I wanted to learn more about other countries, since I haven’t traveled to a lot of countries, so coming to this event gives me an opportunity to learn about those countries and their cultures.”
Christina Sarieddine, an engineering student from Lebanon, gave a presentation on life in the capital city, Beirut, during the Dec. 1 gathering.
“I wanted to present more about what's happening in my country and I didn't have a better opportunity to be presenting, so I chose to be a part of Global Series,” Sarieddine said.
Sarieddine shared information about Lebanon’s history, culture, and major landmarks, as well as struggles the Lebanese people are facing because of extreme gas and electricity shortages and inflation. During her presentation, she shared pictures and videos she took and spoke passionately about her country and culture.
Sarrieddine wanted her audience to understand that although Lebanon is a country of peaceful people, it has never experienced peace, she said.
“People should come to Global Series because it’s an opportunity for them to learn more about other countries,” Sarieddine said. “Other presentations, they are only five or so minutes, and Global Series gives us the opportunity to talk as much as we want about what’s happening in our country, our traditions and hopes for a better future,”
Ndahiro Iribagiza said she was excited to see such a great turnout at the Dec. 1 event.
“This is a platform where international students come and talk about their countries (and) their culture, which creates a sense of belonging, and builds community, and helps domestic students learn about the other world that they might not necessarily hear about,” Ndahiro Iribagiza said. “And it also builds global competition and a global awareness.”