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'Experience America' Series Helps International Students Learn About Everything from Food to Football

It's that most American of experiences.

This weekend, football fans will gather at parties and around the television from coast to coast to watch Super Bowl VL, between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. It will, undoubtedly, be the highest-rated TV show of 2011.

But what if you didn't grow up with American football? The sport can be immensely confusing to someone who knows little, if anything, about it - a series of pileups between players wearing helmets.

To help, ODU's Intercultural Center hosted a program on Feb. 1 to explain the game of American football to more than 40 international students.

"The event was very successful," said Rachawan "Aey" Wongtrirat, coordinator of international programming for ODU's Office of Intercultural Relations (OIR).

"We had over 40 international students representing all degree levels (undergraduate, master's, doctoral and English Language Center students) attend the program. It is very important for us to provide programs that foster international students' interest in learning more about American culture from firsthand experience, outside of the classroom."

The event was a collaboration between the OIR and ODU's English Language Center (ELC), part of a series of workshops known as "Experience America," which seeks to help international students better understand American culture and traditions.

"The Rules of American Football" was led by the ELC's Bill Thompson. A longtime ELC instructor and an active supporter of ODU athletics, he frequently takes students to sporting events both on and off campus.

While students munched on chicken wings, potato chips and other typical football game snacks, Thompson used visuals, handouts and videos to explain the history, rules and terminology of American football. Students asked questions about the game itself and what they can expect in the upcoming Super Bowl.

The "Experience America" workshops and presentations will be held throughout the spring semester. They provide an opportunity for international students to connect with Americans through the exploration of various topics related to society and culture in the United States.

The next presentation, "AAA: All About Americans," will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 10, in the Intercultural Center (2114 Webb Center).

Other future sessions will include "American Cooking" on Feb. 24, "St. Patrick's Day" on March 17 and "This Land We Live In" on April 21.

For more information about the "Experience America" series, contact Wongtrirat (rwongtri@odu.edu), coordinator for international programming in OIR, or Laura Ray (lray@odu.edu) from the ELC.

This article was posted on: February 3, 2011

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Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.