SMWC International Ring Day - a reminder of time spent abroad

April 23rd, 2014 | Betsy Wells

SMWC International Ring Day
SMWC International Ring recipients with President Dottie King

A year can make a big difference, especially when it is a year spent in a foreign country. For international students at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), International Ring Day is a culmination of their journey at The Woods. It is a ceremony of reflection, friendship, gratitude and accomplishment. Bittersweet sentiments are in their hearts as they realize how much the experience meant to them as their time at The Woods is coming to an end.

This year’s International Ring Day took place on Thursday, April 10, in the Sacred Heart Chapel in Le Fer Hall. International students studying at SMWC as well as SMWC students who spent time studying abroad participated in the emotionally moving ceremony.

“This ring can remind me of the wonderful experience at SMWC and my life in America,” says Mengqi Liu, SMWC international student from China, majoring in human resources management. “Most Chinese schools do not have rings, so this will be very special to me. I can only wear at most two rings according to my family’s traditions. One must be marriage ring and the other must be the one that has special meaning to me.”

For the second year, the Mary Helen Clayton International Ring Award was presented to one student. Mary Helen Clayton, a SMWC 1965 graduate, former staff member and longtime supporter of international students, continues to play a vital role in the SMWC international program and has been both a continual mentor and resource to the College. The ring scholarship is given to someone who embodies the same love, service and dedication to SMWC of Mary Helen Clayton. This year’s recipient was journalism major from China, Kexin “Sunny” Li.

Kexin "Sunny" Li, recipient of the Mary Helen Clayton International Ring Award
Kexin "Sunny" Li, recipient of the Mary Helen Clayton International Ring Award

“I am really grateful for the support. It is my honor to receive the international ring with Mary Helen Clayton’s scholarship,” states Li. “This ring is the recognition of my effort in the past months and serves as a perfect memento for me. Even though I am delighted to return home, I cannot help but feel sad to leave this wonderful place. Receiving the international student ring is a really meaningful gift, and every time I look at it, I would recall all the things here, the people, the campus, even the sky, clouds, grass, especially the snow, sunshine, squirrels … everything.”

SMWC’s Study Abroad program allows students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of other cultures through a unique learning experience in another country. Students are exposed to diversity in a new way and gain understanding of a different perspective on the world.  The experiences deepen self-understanding and contribute to a greater understanding of their society and their own values.

For SMWC students who studied abroad, this ring is also a reminder of their time spent in a different country. Laura Kempton, music therapy major from Noblesville, Ind., who studied abroad in New Zealand and Australia, recognizes the importance of her and the other recipients’ experiences.

“An international education is just as important as the education we receive on campus,” says Kempton. “While learning and exploring in another land you learn about the world around you, but much more importantly you learn about yourself and grow as a person.”

International Ring Day recipients included (from China) Yongmei Du, Kexin Li, Mingyue Li, Mengqi Liu, Shu Liu, Tao Liu, Lingqian Long, Yang Wu; (from Taiwan) Hsuan-Ling Huang, Jui-Chen Chu; (from South Korea) Haeun Kim; (from Ireland) Katarzyna Wichrowska; (from the United States) Jessica Claycomb, Argentina, and Laura Kempton, New Zealand and Australia.

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