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November 14-18 marked the 16th annual International Education Week. In celebration, our exchange students held presentations all across Iowa to educate community members on their home countries’ cultures, customs and history. Together, our 29 students presented to more than 4,500 people over the course of one week.

Mahmoud from Morocco presented to over 18 groups throughout the week, including a group of elementary school students in Clear Lake, his host home.
Nsabaah from Ghana also presented to groups around his host home in Clear Lake. He arranged meetings with a wide array of groups including a high school, an elementary school, a library and a women’s fellowship. Nsabaah said,

“This week was very fun, and tiring. I had an amazing time telling people about my country! My favorite was sharing about acceptable behaviors and practices in Ghana.”

The groups were fascinated to hear about customs that we don’t have here like holding hands behind your back when speaking to an adult, only using the right hand in public to shake hands and accept items, sharing clothing and food with relatives–and the list goes on. Each group, depending on their age, reacted differently to Nsabaah’s stories of his customs and culture.

Dana from Israel single handedly taught almost 500 people about her country and customs. She showed one group how to make traditional Middle Eastern foods including falafel and manakeesh. Falafel is a a deep fried ball of either beans or chickpeas. Manakeesh is almost a middle eastern pizza, a dough dish that can be topped with cheese, meats and spices like za’atar. When it came to a crowd favorite, Dana said,

“They liked the za’atar and manakeesh, more than falafel. Just like me!”

All across Iowa, dozens of reports just like these are streaming in. Whether our students chose to share their culture by applying henna, cooking traditional food or giving powerpoint presentations, they brought a new viewpoint to a huge number of people. We hope that International Education Week continues to grow and reach its mission of teaching the benefits of international education and exchange. Thank you to all of our students for their hard work presenting this year. To learn more about International Education Week follow this link.

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