UWFV international students share their culture


Joseph Schulz

Elva Ng gets her display ready featuring a traditional Malaysian drink called air bandung.

International students presented poster boards with information about their culture and taught students how to play games from their native countries at UW-Fox Valley’s fifth international student event on March 14.

There are currently 108 international students from 14 different countries enrolled at UWFV including China, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Pakistan, Panama, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Peru and Uganda.

International Student Coordinator Sarah Christensen said the event was important because it gave international students a chance to bring their culture to campus.

“Sometimes [international students] sit in class with students in their normal classes, and they don’t get to teach them about their culture,” Christensen said. “This event is about teaching fun games and activities and sharing food and getting a chance to interact with each other and share their culture with American students.”

Christensen said the event encouraged cultural understanding.

“Sometimes I think [domestic] students don’t know what to say or how to talk to an international student,” Christensen said, “Hopefully it promotes that interaction. Hopefully when they see each other in class they will be more willing to talk to each other and open up.”

Christensen said the event gave UWFV professors a chance to interact with students that they might not have in class.

“Some of our faculty in the past have come, and they’ve done research in some of the countries that the students are from, but they might not teach them in class,” Christensen said. “The students get really excited when people have been to their countries.”

Christensen said this event was part of the class she teaches for first-semester international students who were required to make a poster as a group and present in front of the class before the event.

“They learn about group work and how fun and challenging that can be. It’s just really to teach a part of their culture, and they do this event,” Christensen said. “It works really well because it’s graded, and it’s part of their class project, but it also exposes them to American students in their first semester.”

Students pose in front of their poster for UW-Fox Valley’s fifth international student event.
Joseph Schulz
Students pose in front of their poster for UW-Fox Valley’s fifth international student event.

Kings Education Center Manager Chihae Lee said her role in the event was to help Christensen because such a high percentage of international students at UWFV are from Kings Education.

“Myself and my team with Kings, we’re here to support Sarah with any kind of events she hosts,” Lee said. “I think the idea is really, we just help each other out. So she hosts an event, we push it for our students.”

UWFV international student from Malaysia Elva Ng prepared a traditional Malaysian drink called air bandung to accompany her poster.

“It’s made from rose syrup, you just add condensed milk, and at last you add grass jelly,” Ng said. “People usually use that to drink with dessert. You can also add ice cubes if you prefer.”

Ng said her favorite part about going to school in Wisconsin is the peaceful environment for studying.

“The thing I don’t really like is [that] the weather is so cold,” Ng said. “It’s getting better. It’s spring now.”

UWFV international student from China Jason Wang’s group held a chopstick competition at their display. The challenge was to see who could get the most Skittles out of a bucket in one minute and 45 seconds, using only chopsticks.

“Most of the Chinese guys use chopsticks for their dinner, for their lunch, for their daily eating,” Wang said. “Sometimes you can use chopsticks for common activities; it’s kind of a game. It’s fun.”

Wang said he spent his last year of high school in Boston, but this is his first year in Wisconsin.

“I like the environment here; the weather is not so bad,” Wang said. “The transportation is not so convenient actually.”

Lee said the event promotes building a dialogue between international students and domestic students.

“Domestic students, they feel it’s not as weird or awkward because they’re just going to a table and just learning about something,” Lee said. “They’re getting a prize, or they win candy. It’s a very informal, low-key kind of way to introduce people to one another and learn about a culture.”