Students from China, Germany and France displayed artifacts from their native countries at UNC Pembroke's University Center, and other tables presented information about study abroad programs.
The displays were set up as part of International Education Week at UNCP. A record number of students have opted to become exchange students next semester, with the majority going to Germany.
On one tables were everyday items found in the homes of most Germans: a giant jar of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, a knit towel, a chocolate Christmas calendar, a book and soccer memorabilia.
Lefke Boysen, an exchange student from Germany and member of the women's soccer team, said she has enjoyed her time at UNCP very much.
"It's good to learn from another culture and other people," she said. "This campus is small so you get to know everyone, and it is more personal."
The men's soccer team surprised the sports community by recruiting six talented German exchange students who helped the team to its first NCAA Championship game and national top-10 ranking. Several American players will participate in an exchange program to Germany next semester.
As UNCP's enrollment increases, so does interest in study abroad programs.
"Today's world is so globalized that if students want to excel, they need to learn new perspectives and maybe even another language," said Alex Chen, associate vice chancellor for International Programs.
Business Professor Howard Ling promoted his summer travel program in Mexico and wore a tie with little flags on it. Former exchange students Judd Sanders and Caleb Taylor spoke with enthusiasm about their experiences and tried to recruit new candidates.
There are 52 international students at UNCP, many on semester or year-long exchange programs.
Record number of UNCP students will study abroad next semester
By Andrea Vukcevic
It was hard to ignore the German influence on UNC Pembroke's men's soccer team this semester as they helped the team achieve its first-ever NCAA invitation and a top-10 national ranking.
But the half-dozen exchange students will return to their homelands at the end of the year and will take some of their teammates with them.
Don't worry. Many of UNCP's soccer players will return the favor by becoming exchange students during the spring semester and return for next fall's soccer season.
About a dozen other UNCP students will go to universities in Sweden and Brazil in the spring, making this the largest group to ever study abroad.
"Our hard work has finally paid off," said Beth Carmical, director of the International Student Services and the Multicultural Center. "It is important that students experience other languages and cultures because it helps them mature and assert their independence."
Carmical credited assistant soccer coach Marco Genée for the soccer team's significant participation. Genée himself is from Germany and was instrumental in recruiting the talent that boosted team performance and led to the best season in school history.
British citizen and soccer player, Graeme Little, will join some of his international teamates at their native school next semester.
He looks forward to "just getting thrown into the deep end" and learning a new language.
Little's Spanish teammate, Rafael Parra Román, is also going to a German university and hopes the historic monuments and European influence will improve his artistic ideas and techniques.
"I want to study art and see the way [Germans] live," he said.
Junior Leah Bailey is one of a handful of students headed for Sweden and is interested in seeing the sun shine continuously for 24 hours. She looks forward to traveling around the country and learning about Nordic culture, and she can't wait to "meet some people who can show me what's fun to do."
Bailey has never traveled by train or left the continental U.S.
At least two members of the women's soccer team are going as well. Jacqueline Bower and Erin Rowley will be the first UNCP students to participate in a new exchange with Umea University, also in Sweden.
Andrea Vukcevic is an international student and feature editor for the Pine Needle, UNCP's student newspaper.