By Courtney Fowler, Staff Writer 

Xiaoyuan Ye doing calligraphy with French exchange students Pauline Avignon and Pauline Lefeuvre (photo courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

Xiaoyuan Ye doing calligraphy with French exchange students Pauline Avignon and Pauline Lefeuvre (photo courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) Office of International and Exchange Programs has kicked off a series of events entitled, Discovering Cultures Around the World, beginning with Asia.

   The unique event featured many aspects of traditional Chinese and Japanese culture including, painting, origami, calligraphy, a presentation on kung fu, and many authentic Asian food options. Over 75 people from both the UMF and Farmington communities attended the event.

Assistant Director of the Office of International and Exchange Programs Lynne Eustis, expressed her joy with the outcome of the event. “There were a lot of people here today which is exactly what we were looking for,” said Eustis. “All we want to do is give exposure, exposure of other countries and cultures throughout the world.”

In fact, exposure is the main goal of all events included in this series. Each event focuses on a unique cultural aspects from different regions around the world. In November, Latin America will be featured, December will focus on France, a Chinese New Year celebration will take place in February, and a look into African culture will conclude the series in April.

Not only does this allow students and community members to gain knowledge, but it also provides an opportunity for UMF’s visiting international students to share their culture. The international students who played a role in the event were passionate about sharing a piece of their home culture with those here in Maine.

Xiaoyuan Ye, UMF junior and international exchange student from China, clearly enjoyed her time running the calligraphy table at the event and sharing an aspect of her culture. “Not many people have knowledge of Asian culture and I think this event can help students increase their knowledge,” said Ye. “I want more people to be interested in our culture, maybe even take a Chinese class, I’m a tutor!”

Ye went on to describe her experience as an international exchange student. The college she attended in Shanghai, Fudan University, has a strong relationship with UMF and was able to provide her with a yearlong program to study in the United States. This is her first experience as an exchange student. “I wanted to come to the United States to study and be able to learn and experience new things. I wanted to meet a lot of awesome friends, which I have already done,” said Ye. “So far, my favorite experience has been going kayaking. I had never done it before and the first time I went, I fell in the water! It was a lot of fun and now, I am not scared of anything.” Ye is an english major and hopes to one day teach at a university.

The passion of the students sharing their culture was evident to the many people who came to learn, making the event a success. “This has been a great start to the series,” said Eustis. “We look forward to the upcoming events throughout the year.”

For a complete list of  events for the semester or more information about international and exchange programs, email Lynne Eustis at leustis@maine.edu or find UMF International and Exchange Programs on Facebook.