Traveling to another country can be challenging, and helping others understand the culture can be equally difficult. 

Ball State's Rinker Center helps international students make the adjustment from home to college and offers International Student Services (ISS) that provide students with programs that can make the transition to a new country easier, while also hosting programs that help students from the U.S. better bond and understand with those from different cultures.

As a part of this initiative, the Rinker Center hosts a "Culture Exchange" every Wednesday in Yuhas Room (SC102) from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. These programs are facilitated to help students immerse themselves in a culture that varies from their norm, offering students from other countries the opportunity to share about their home country, paired with a sampling of food unique to the particular culture. 

Upcoming Culture Exchange Series Programs

Yuhas Room, SC102

Culture Exchanges will take place from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on:

Oct. 12 // China 

Oct. 19 // Isle of Man

Oct. 26 // Iraq

Nov. 2 // Papua New Guinea

Nov. 9 // Pakistan

Nov. 16 // Tajikistan 

Nov. 30 // India 

Dec. 7 // Kuwait

Senior pre-med, microbiology major Kheiria Benkato moved from Benghazi, Libya, a few years ago, and since she's been at Ball State, she has presented twice for the Culture Exchange.

"Since I came here, I feel like Americans are really, really self-centered," Benkato said. "They don't know a lot about what's going on except if you wanna watch the media. Stuff like that can help them be exposed to the world and see [a] different perspective from the people that actually are living there instead of the media."

After Benkato's most recent presentation on Oct. 5, the floor was opened up to students who had questions about Libya and Libyan culture. One key point Benkato often drew back to was her relationship with her family and how adjusting to life without them has been a challenge.

"Not being around my family ... I used to be dependent on them," Benkato said. "So, basically going to the opposite pole, it was just really, really hard for me to adapt and until now, I'm still adapting and learning a lot of stuff."

After attending Benkato's session on Libya, junior telecommunications major Robyn White said she felt more educated about Libya and its culture – a foreign concept and topic to her before.  

"It was very insightful and just gave me an open mind and an open eye as far as other countries outside of America and cultures that deal with things differently than we do," White said. 

Although helpful to both international students and their U.S. counterparts, the program would not be in place if there were not students to present their cultures. Graduate assistant Huda Al Herz finds students to host a presentation based off of their home country. 

"It's good to know different cultures," Al Herz said. "For example, we have a new Chinese student. He doesn't know the culture. If the American knows Chinese culture they might ... understand how he acts and they don't consider him or her rude for doing such things."

This, Al Herz said, helps both parties have a better understanding of each other's cultures. 

The next Culture Exchange will take place in the Yuhas Room on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 12 p.m.