Throughout November, Ayusa students were busy sharing their cultures with their host communities for International Education Week (IEW). This event, sponsored by the Department of State, gives exchange students the opportunity to present, teach, and connect with their host communities.
Our exchange students proved that they were excited to participate! Combined, our students put in thousands of hours of work preparing and presenting to their host communities, sharing their cultures and traditions.
Ayusa’s IEW contest had many entries and all were very impressive! Our grand prize winner is Riwa, who is from Lebanon and living in Missouri! Our runners-up are Areeb, from Pakistan living in Missouri, and Rilvan, from Indonesia living in Arizona.
Riwa presented to well over 500 people throughout her community. She created various presentations tailored to the classes that she presented in. Topics included history, tourism, music, ethics, food, diversity, and so much more! During her orchestra class, she pulled together music from famous singers and sheet music from Lebanon. They class even played one of the songs together! In her Spanish class, she and a friend from a different culture dressed in traditional clothing and discussed similarities and differences between their two cultures. As a Youth Exchange and Study (YES) student, Riwa had to tackle some difficult stereotypes about her religion, which she did not shy away from.
Riwa shared that the main focus of her presentations was “to break stereotypes and to make a change in people’s minds.” Through stories she was able to share her own experiences about Lebanon. From her experience presenting, Riwa shares that she learned that she has “the power to change and reach people” and that she “shouldn’t underestimate [herself].” She also shared, “I now know that the things we have and know…are things other people from over nationalities don't [know]. So we shouldn't laugh at people who know less, we should rather be the farmer who waters their buds of knowledge to grow into trees of wisdom and make this world a more understanding and peaceful place through education and sharing cultures.”
Check out part of Riwa’s presentation about Lebanon here!
Areeb completed over 25 presentations throughout his community, including many at his school, scouts meetings, and church. While wearing traditional clothing from Pakistan, he presented on various topics, such as music, culture, food, geography, and more! He also discussed many of the similarities and differences between Pakistan and America. One of Areeb’s teachers shared, “I liked how Areeb encouraged everyone to ask ANY question of him and/or express an opinion; he did a great job!” Through his presentations and experience with IEW, Areeb said that he learned “that stereotypes can be broken by just a conversation.”
Rilvan also made IEW presentations across many different audiences. He presented to classes, clubs, and libraries and different schools. During his presentations, he dressed in traditional clothing to share Indonesia’s culture, geography, dance and music, food, and much more! Rilvan made his presentations interactive by asking questions to win prizes, taught watchers how to play traditional games, and tasting Indonesian hot sauce. His recommendation forms came with ratings such as “10” and “5 to the 10th power” when asked to rank his presentations on a scale of 1-5; they were that impressed!
We also wanted to recognize Maria from Germany and Vivian from Taiwan as honorable mentions!
We sincerely want to thank all students who participated. You truly have made a difference in your host community by sharing your culture.