By Fairuz Humam
In the past couple years, Penn State Harrisburg has grown as a welcoming place for international students. Besides the friendly and personal service from the International Student Support Service (ISSS), the whole campus community have voluntarily contributed each of their time and energy to create a diverse environment. All components on campus have worked hand in hand to make sure that the Penn State Harrisburg could be a supportive place for international students.
The spirit and hard work for the whole year came to a celebration of the “Global Ambassador Ceremony” that was held on April 28th in the Gallery Lounge from 11.15 am to 1.00 pm. More than 80 people gathered in the room to hear success stories and achievements in the past one school year. Each person who came in was assigned to sit in one of the 10 round tables together as a helping community, either they are student, faculty, staff, school administrator or community volunteer. Each table was nicely decorated with pink and green tablecloths and bowls of chocolates and gifts on top of them.
Over 50 countries of international students’ origin across the world are recognized on campus. 35 students from 19 countries united to become Global Ambassadors, who Anna Marshall, the International Student Adviser, always defines as “The future world leaders”. Global Ambassador Award Ceremony is meant to appreciate Global Ambassadors and community volunteers for their effort and services to the community. Two Global Ambassadors, Creisson Soni and Chubo (Tony) Peng, lead the ceremony as the emcees.
Dr. Mukund Kulkarni, Penn State Harrisburg’s Chancellor in his opening speech said, “People who are comfortable speaking more than one language, living in more than one culture and surviving in difficult circumstances are the most successful”. He can understand what the international students’ have gone through because he was once like them too. He wants to recognize their efforts to learn and grow in a diverse environment.
Next, Anna presented about the life frame of an international student in Penn State Harrisburg. She shared the chart about how new international students interact with peer mentors, ISSS, faculty and staff, and the local community. She further explained that Global Ambassadors take leadership roles as the extension of the ISSS to reach out to various schools and departments across the campus. Global Ambassadors also become the event leaders and volunteers for cultural events on campus.
To highlight the achievements over the year, Calida Gao and Orn Ngramcroh worked together with other global ambassadors to record interviews with many people who have been actively involved in the ISSS community. Their stories were summarized in a cultural enrichment video presented by Siddhi Patel (You can find the video at https://youtu.be/wJwMGsBnUAQ or http://v.qq.com/page/w/e/4/w0305tktbe4.html), the video of international student panel discussion presented by Muhammad Al Meraikhi (The video can be watched at https://youtu.be/SE12KHI3YmI or http://v.qq.com/page/b/t/5/b03064gm7t5.html), and the community connections video presented by Iretemi Famadewa, and last but not least Meng Li who presented about the collaboration between alumni and the ISSS. (You can find the video at https://youtu.be/d5LvAhLoE04 or http://v.qq.com/page/g/v/i/g0302yt1pvi.html). Creisson commented in her remarks that all of the work seemed like a full time job for Global Ambassadors.
After the video presentations, global ambassadors secretly prepared an out of the agenda video. They recorded a thank-you video for Anna to appreciate her dedication and hard work. “Anna is like a mom, Anna is amazing, Anna works with her heart”, and many other comments from all of the Global Ambassadors to show how proud they are to know and work with Anna. The video can be watched at https://youtu.be/YsOBCJSb7QA. All of the audience stood up for applause after seeing the touching video. Anna could not hide her happiness and surprise to receive such surprise. She thanked all of the hard work because she believes nothing is possible without everybody’s support.
After the video session, Creisson and Tony introduced a game to the audience. Each of the person in a table should take an m& m where each color represents a fun task. The task are meant to connect students with faculty, staff, or community volunteers in the same table. They play to teach other people about other’s people name in their culture, singing a national anthem, talking about the most interesting travel experience, etc.
After the fun game, Creisson and Tony called upon Dr. Kulkarni and Anna to give awards for the community volunteers. Those who receive the awards are the Asian Indian Americans of Central Pennsylvania, Life Gospel Chinese Christian Church, and the Living Water Community Church. Dr. Kulkarni handed in the award to the each of the representatives.
All of the 35 global ambassadors also had their names called upon in front of the audience to get a certificate of appreciation. Donna Howard, the Associate Director of Student Affairs, stood beside Anna to congratulate each of the global ambassadors warmly. Six of the global ambassadors also got awards besides the certificate. The awards are: Outstanding Leadership Award for Fairuziana Humam and Anubha Gupta, Diversity Award for Muhammad Al Meraikhi and Chubo (Tony) Peng, and Community Service award for Valentina Monroy and Janose Osedeme.
At 12.15 pm, everybody was ready to have lunch and enjoy the international cuisine from different continents. The audience had to be patient lining up based on their tables to get food. The food served are Veg pakoras, Channa masala , Veg korma, Naan, Chutneys, Thai Chicken Panang Curry, General Tsao’s chicken, braised fish fillet, and rice. Desserts are Baklava and Dates cookies.
The ceremony has inspired faculty and staff to get more involved in future events. Sherry Hoffmann, the school administrator from School of Behavioral Science and Education said that she plans to attend more cultural events next year. The Global Ambassador Ceremony award become a good finish line to celebrate the year-long hard work and happiness. “Learn more, think globally and expand the horizon”, the Global Ambassadors motto shout out marked the end of the ceremony for this year. See you next year!