Helen Werner and Nathaniel Cogley presented Wednesday as part of St. Thomas’ International Education week, but event organizers were dissatisfied with the poor turnout.
About six students were present for Werner’s presentation, and only about sixteen people came to Cogley’s.
“I think they are fun,” Sarah Churchill of International Student Services said. “I wish more people would come.”
Samba Dieng, assistant director of the office of international student services, was also displeased with the turnout.
“I thought it was very unfortunate that the students didn’t take advantage of this opportunity,” Dieng said. “We did what we could. We decided to email almost all faculty members and asked them to disseminate information to their students. …The posters were all over campus here, it was on The Bulletin.”
Despite the poor turnout, Dieng said, “nothing will be changed” with advertising for the next year.
Werner, an international student at St. Thomas, gave a presentation on the culture and history of Germany to debunk common misconceptions people hold about Germans.
“I interviewed people and asked about what they thought about Germany,” Werner said. “In the end… it was mostly the same things we think about ourselves.”
International graduate student Frank Rischner, a German citizen as well, agreed.
“(People) need more awareness about the history because I am still getting judged about the past, like about Hitler,” Rischner said. “Hopefully more people understand we are not raising our right hand anymore. It is ridiculous. Nobody in Germany is like this anymore.”
Werner’s presentation was just one of many events happening this week as a way to raise cultural awareness for St. Thomas students.
“It internationalizes the campus,” Churchill said. “The main purpose is to kind of teach students about a culture they may not know about.”
The keynote speaker for this week’s events was Cogley, a Ph.D. candidate for political science at Yale University. Cogley presented a documentary he filmed in West Africa in 2002.
He was inspired to make the film after seeing many different TV series on Africa and noticing they all were missing African’s perspectives.
“Usually in those series, when an African talks, they get about half a sentence out and then the narrator cuts them off and it’s back to what the academic thinks,” Cogley said.
St. Thomas ELS staff Brittany Reif enjoyed the ground up approach Cogley used in making his film.
“I really liked the organic nature of it,” Reif said.
Cogley said many people are anticipating his next work.
“A lot of times people ask me, ‘When’s the sequel coming?’ I am proud of it,” Cogley said.
Patrick Roche can be reached at email@example.com.
*Correction: The titles for Brittany Reif, Samba Deng and Sarah Churchill were originally misreported and are updated.