Beloiters Go Global

The nation has recognized International Education Week for the better part of two decades. What makes this week so special at Beloit?

International Education Week, observed nationwide every November, began as a federal initiative in 2000. Beloit has direct ties to its founding—alumnus David Levin’73 proposed the week through the State Department and Department of Education as a way to celebrate off-campus study and the presence of international students.

Beloit’s international profile is extensive, and its recognition of International Education Week is, too. Like many colleges, Beloit features cultural events throughout the week, from poetry readings in different languages to internationally oriented exhibits, but Beloit also places a special emphasis on student learning and the trajectories of alumni, showing how internationalism becomes parts of people’s careers. International Symposium, the Ivan and Janice Stone Lecture, and Beloit’s approach to study abroad all exemplify this focus.

Beloit has held International Symposium on campus during International Education Week each year since 2002. Instead of classes that day, the college community highlights students’ international experiences by sharing them publicly. Students make professional presentations to audiences of faculty, staff, and their peers. In 2019, 55 student presenters were slated to participate.

The Stone Lecture coincides with International Education Week to promote learning about issues around the world. This year’s lecture, Afghanistan and Pakistan: Politics, Identity, Conflict, will feature three distinguished Beloit alumni with international careers: Paul Fishstein’76, Mashail Malik’12, and Arsalan Khan’05. In addition to presenting the lecture, they will visit classes and attend meetings with faculty and students.

Betsy Brewer, director of Beloit’s Office of International Education, and Beth Dougherty, professor of international relations, coordinate the lecture every year. Brewer, who has worked in OIE since 2002, says these lecturers demonstrate the impact of a Beloit education in their expertise and their world-spanning careers. All three alumni studied abroad during their time at Beloit, but came from very different majors and interests, ranging from economics and philosophy to English and education and youth studies.

To Brewer, study abroad further engages the skills students are already developing in and out of the classroom—in her words, “thinking about and communicating with people whose lives are different from your own.” International Symposium captures this spirit.

“Listening to peer stories about study abroad is very inspiring and reassuring and validating,” Brewer says. “There’s a whole array of people who study abroad. You can do things you wouldn’t be able to do at Beloit. It’s a very intentional part of a student’s education—taking ownership of their learning.”

Oli Brimacombe’20, an international political economy major from the UK and student worker in OIE, commends Beloit’s focus on internationalism. For her, International Education Week is all about challenging your beliefs and opening yourself up to others.

“I think about my life since I left the UK and the conversations that I’ve listened to and the topics that I have become more knowledgeable in because of knowing people,” Brimacombe says. “I can pretty confidently say that everything I am proud of knowing I’ve learned from people from different countries and experiences.”

November 15, 2019

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