LODI - When Max Love attended the annual International Education Week at Lodi High School as a student there, it fueled his interest in global learning and led to his desire to serve in the Peace Corps in Eastern Europe.
A 2009 Lodi High School graduate, he returned to the event this year as a guest speaker on multicultural and international education. Now a UW-Madison student in Middle Eastern studies, he received a scholarship to study Arabic and wanted to let students know about the opportunities that exist.
"It's immeasurable," said Love about the effect of International Education Week.
It's the fourth year of the event, which just concluded after featuring more than 35 speakers from around the world, an international film festival, international cuisine, an Indian dance troupe and other activities.
The keynote speaker was filmmaker and photographer Chip Duncan, who wrote "Enough to Go Around -- Images of Humanity and Hope in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Darfur" and sits on the board of Relief International, a nonprofit that provides assistance to poor people worldwide. In appreciation of Duncan's visit, students raised almost $2,000 for the organization by selling items such as bracelets made by women in Darfur.
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"It's important, especially in schools where there isn't a lot of diversity, to bring it in," said Lauren Nichols, a senior who helped organize the event.
Tadela Shimshak, a 2008 Lodi High School graduate who was born in Ethiopia, returned to talk about her native country during International Education Week -- an event she credited with making her time at the high school more comfortable because it opened students' minds to people of other cultures.
"It kind of made me feel like I'm not alone," said Shimshak, who plans to attend Edgewood College and go into nursing.
Other speakers included Kathryn Keener, a 2006 graduate of Lodi High School who studied in France last semester, and Zach Clemens, a 2003 graduate. He is now vice president of programs for the Jatropha Foundation, which was established to create production systems for jatropha plant biofuels, starting in Haiti.
Janel Anderson, a Lodi social studies teacher, founded International Education Week with a former colleague.
"I really think of it as this is a seed that we can plant for kids," said Anderson, event chairwoman.