Breaking down barriers leads to more inclusivity, embracing diversity from every angle. This is what students from the International Student Leadership Team (ISLT), Haruna Yamagata and Khalil Dennis, hope to accomplish in "Boxes and Walls," a multicultural exhibit that is part of the Facing Change Week, taking place April 2-6.
Yamagata and Dennis are working with other ISLT members to create an interactive display that shows the process of obtaining a student visa. They hope viewers will be able to understand what it is like to be an international student coming to the U.S. to attend college.
“I bet a lot of people on campus don’t know much about the process of being an international student and what it feels like coming from a different country,” Dennis said. “For people with language barriers who try to get connected with people on campus, they might not know that perspective.”
Yamagata, originally from Osaka, Japan, illustrates the importance of this type of interactive exhibit by recounting her experience of coming to the U.S. to attend UK.
“I was really nervous and my English wasn’t good at that time. I was kind of having a hard time getting through immigration,” she said.
Yamagata hopes the exhibit will be real enough for viewers to understand what the experience is like and help native students be able to relate more to the international population on campus. The exhibit will include a timeline of steps to take when coming to study in the U.S. from another country as well as a live demonstration of going through Customs and Border Protection.
"Boxes and Walls" will encompass multiple rooms, each related to different topics of diversity and inclusion. Students from different organizations including, ISLT The Queer Project, Black Student Union and the UK National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will work to create their own “box” or room centered around a specific topic.
Yamagata and Dennis also believe this event will help to better showcase the diversity of UK’s campus. “Even when I worked as an RA (resident advisor), I saw diversity but it was so small. I think this is a good way for international people to come together and share an experience,” Dennis said.
Facing Change Week will include multiple events throughout the week related to issues of belonging, social justice and diversity. "Boxes and Walls" is a free event that will take place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today (Wednesday), and 2 to 7 p.m., Thursday, in Baldwin Hall. All UK students and faculty are encouraged to attend by getting a free ticket online. Collaborators on the event are UK Residence Life, International Student and Scholar Services and the Counseling Center.