Katherine Lyu is a recipient of the 2023 Global Student Award, which recognizes one undergraduate and one graduate student who are leaders deeply engaged in international education on campus or abroad. Lyu is an undergraduate student from Xiamen, China, majoring in English & creative writing. Lyu will be presented with the Global Student Award during a WorldCanvass program on November 2, 2023.
Learn more about Lyu’s engagement with international education below.
In what ways are you involved with international education?
I am from the Department of English, a department with few international students, which shaped my leadership style centered on increasing awareness of international education. Currently, I work as a peer assistant at International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), where I began in June 2022. This role ignited my passion for higher education, specifically in supporting international students. I strive to introduce a humanitarian perspective to our international student community, fostering greater understanding and empathy for diverse cultures and experiences. My background in the arts field also helped me identify and address information gaps between international students and campus offices, collaborating with various offices to bridge these gaps and make resources more accessible. In January 2023, I participated in the "Study Abroad: Writing in Greece" program, where I was the only international student. This experience deepened my belief in the transformative potential of international education. Conversations with my American peers highlighted the power of cultural exchange and mutual understanding, reinforcing the idea that, despite diverse backgrounds, we share a common human experience. Additionally, I serve as an international student ambassador for UI Admissions. This role involves interacting with prospective international students, refining intercultural communication skills, and navigating cultural differences. It has made me more aware of my global citizenship and the importance of representing my school appropriately to a global audience. My work aims to bridge the gap between being an international student representative and a school representative, conveying global issues, cultural diversity, and the interconnectedness of the world. Through my various roles and experiences, I contribute to creating a more inclusive and welcoming campus community for international students, fostering a sense of belonging, which is integral to international education.
What are some other campus or community involvement activities you’ve been a part of?
Vice president – International Student Advisory Board 2023-2024
President – Chinese Students and Scholars Association 2022-2023
International Student Ambassador – UI Admission 2022-2024
Member - Alpha Tau Iota, University of Iowa's Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta 2023-2024
Museum Intern – Old Capitol Museum 2023 – 2024
Inventory Assistant – Office of State Archaeologists Jan 2023 – May 2023
Volunteer – Old Capitol Museum 2022-2023
Member - BIJOU Film Board 2022-2023
Member – Student Video Production 2021-2023
Volunteer – Dance Marathon 2021
"My work aims to bridge the gap between being an international student representative and a school representative, conveying global issues, cultural diversity, and the interconnectedness of the world. Through my various roles and experiences, I contribute to creating a more inclusive and welcoming campus community for international students, fostering a sense of belonging, which is integral to international education."
What is the most valuable thing you have learned through your international education experiences?
International education has significantly transformed my perspective on the world. Prior to my involvement in international education as a student leader and a student employee, I had operated within a rather insular pathway. I followed the conventional path of an international student, navigating through the academic routine, primarily focused on achieving good grades and benefiting from the university's policies for international students. In many ways, I mirrored the experiences of countless other international students who often find themselves ensconced in a self-contained world, seldom engaging with their surroundings.
However, my engagement with international education marked a turning point. It encouraged me to lift my gaze and observe the broader landscape. I began to grasp the university's objectives and the underlying rationale, which, in turn, shed light on the dynamics within the international student community – including my own experiences. This newfound awareness expanded my horizons, enabling me to embrace various challenges, ideas, and individuals. I recognized that my efforts extended beyond personal growth; I could affect minor yet meaningful changes within my immediate environment, and this realization filled me with a profound sense of fulfillment.
The cyclical process of "observing, contemplating, taking action, evaluating, and deriving motivation" became integral to my journey and was how I approached international education practices as an international student. I discovered topics and concerns that resonated within my world, and I was no longer confined to solitude within my own sphere of existence.
Please share a message with your fellow classmates about the importance of international education.
The inclusive and diverse environment promoted by international education provides a nurturing space for introspection, experimentation, and growth. Furthermore, it demonstrates that once the barriers of national, cultural, and personal identities are removed, each team member can connect on a fundamental human level. This perspective also allows us to acknowledge and comprehend the discomfort and discord that may arise among individuals. With this in mind, people can choose their attitudes while living in an internationalized world. My choice is to enhance openness and trust people in the first place.
In such an inclusive and diverse environment, we witness how goodwill, tolerance, and support can transcend cultural norms and conventional rationality, revealing themselves as essential aspects of our shared human essence. This experience encourages us to believe that human beings are capable of understanding and supporting one another – a truly magical realization. Without the presence of international education in our world, I may never have had the opportunity to connect with someone from a distant corner of the globe, and I may never have discovered that such pure and profound connections can indeed exist within the intricate tapestry of human existence.
What are your future academic or career goals?
The skills and perspectives developed in the international education pathway have been my treasures and I will continue to think about how I can use my skills to impact more people. I am considering entering either a creative writing MFA program or a science communication program for graduate school while continuing to work with museums.
International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement. IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.