Lindsay Pepper: My name is Lindsay Pepper, and I am the assistant director of international student scholar services and outreach. And so, I do advising for students, but I also run programs that connect our international population with the rest of campus and the local community.
Milka Radovic: Chile is in South America. Everyone knows where is South America?
Milka Radovic: Where is that?
Student: Below North America.
Milka Radovic: Yeah!
Lindsay Pepper: So, we’re at Mabel school out in Zionville, about 20 minutes outside of Boone, and it’s Mabel’s International Day, and so, we have a series of international students from Appalachian, our Cultural Ambassadors, who give presentations about their home countries.
Janine Barten: I am from the Netherlands. I’ve been in North Carolina now, at App State, for two months now. Today we are at Mabel school, and we are giving presentations as Cultural Ambassadors to the children at the school. So, we’re all talking about our countries. It’s good to learn about other cultures in general, so they have an idea of what’s outside their own culture.
Lindsay Pepper: And so we’ll have, you know, everywhere from first grade to fifth grade to eighth grade learning different things about Chile, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Pakistan. The countries our Cultural Ambassadors are from.
Alexandre Berard: So, now we’re going to learn a little bit of French. I play football. Say je joue au football.
Students: Je joue au football.
Alexandre Berard: Exactly.
Lindsay Pepper: A lot of the teachers here have said that it really provides a new perspective since many of the students here may not have traveled outside of the country or really kind of outside of this part of the state very much.
Shane Courtney: My name is Shane Courtney, and I’m in seventh grade. We just learned about Belgium from Alex. I was really surprised how Belgium was so small.
Dave Blanks: How small is it?
Shane Courtney: Pretty small. I don’t know.
Kyle Hollers: Wait, 314 times smaller than the U.S.
Alexandre Berard: Exactly
Kyle Hollers: Yes, OK.
Alex: You remember a while, huh?
Kyle Hollers: We’ve been learning about other countries and their cultures. I was really surprised by the public transportation that’s nonexistent here, and I was surprised that you could take public transportation or just walk to go anywhere.
Jianni Ballard: My name is Jianni Ballard, and I’m in seventh grade. We’re learning about different countries — the culture, the food, the different cities, languages.
Lindsay Pepper: It’s really a great way to kind of share the resources of Appalachian and share some new perspectives and hopefully just increase student’s curiosity, I think, about other parts of the world and people who think different than them.
Hersha: I think it’s important to accept more people and you should embrace diversity. That’s one of the ways we can promote diversity.
Students: Thank you!
Alex: Thank you very much!
BOONE, N.C. — To say “I met someone from there” can be a start in demystifying foreign cultures.
Greater global understanding is the aim of the Cultural Ambassadors at Appalachian State University — a group of international students and scholars who visit K-12 schools, community organizations and Appalachian classrooms to talk about their native countries and the people who live there.
The Cultural Ambassadors program is one of many activities sponsored by Appalachian’s Office of International Education and Development designed to develop awareness, knowledge, appreciation and respect of cultural differences.
This academic year has seen the highest numbers ever in the program’s history: 21 students and scholars wanting to be Cultural Ambassadors, with more than 30 requests already this semester for them to speak.
The current ambassadors represent 13 countries in South America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia. They can “humanize world events and allow local community members to hear different perspectives,” said Lindsay Pepper, assistant director of international student and scholar services and outreach at Appalachian.
“They talk about their families and where they grew up. They share photos and talk about their personal experiences,” Pepper said.
“We hear anecdotal stories of people’s feelings or attitudes about a country changing as a result of hearing the Cultural Ambassadors speak. If people learn to care about a particular person, they can care about that country, too.”
About the Office of International Education and Development
The OIED is responsible for spearheading the internationalization efforts at Appalachian. The internationalization mission of Appalachian is to develop awareness, knowledge, appreciation and respect of cultural differences in both domestic and international contexts in its students, faculty, staff and the surrounding communities. The university is also dedicated to creating a campus environment that builds the theoretical and practical skills needed to interact effectively in a global society.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.