International Students Day
By Sharon Schweitzer
In 1939, students of the Medical Faculty at Charles University in Prague held a demonstration to commemorate the formation of an independent Czechoslovak Republic. The Nazis brutally suppressed the gathering, resulting in a student Jan Opletal’s death.
Thousands of students turned up at his funeral procession – an event that transformed into an anti-Nazi demonstration. The Nazis responded by shutting down all Czech education institutions. In a shocking display of brute power, they arrested over 1,200 students and sent them to concentration camps. But the worst was yet to come. On November 17, the Nazis rounded up nine protesters, executing them without trial. The day was first marked in 1941 in London by the International Students’ Council (which had many refugee members) in accord with the Allies, and the tradition has been kept up by the successor International Union of Students, which has been pressing with National Unions of Students in Europe and other groups to make the day an official United Nations observance.
Today, it’s a day when universities all over the world celebrate their large international student populations and the amazing work they do in the local communities. Students put in a lot of hard work to achieve their goals and make an impact on the world. These students have left their families and homes to study at a university and achieve a better life for themselves and their families. It is a celebration of diversity, multiculturalism and teamwork among students. These students are the future and should be celebrated for their pursuit of knowledge, irrespective of their field of study and background.
Being an international student in a foreign country isn’t easy. Having to leave your home and family behind takes courage. International students travel far from their home countries for higher education which will help them to have a better life and provide for their loved ones.
We pledge to continue working toward a future where everyone has access to high-quality education in honor of the struggles and sacrifices made by students who fought for their right to an education. So let’s commemorate International Students Day by reiterating our commitment to ensuring that everyone has access to education!
Photo by EuroKids Pre-school
Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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