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Explore cultures at home, abroad in 2013

Looking for an international experience? Start with the Queen City, which has more than you might think

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For those who want to get a sense of the world – learn a new language, experience new cuisine, and gain exposure to ancient song and dance – Young Achievers has compiled several opportunities for students of various ages to experience international culture at home and overseas. Save this list for the upcoming year.

2013 Children’s World of Play

Location: International House event, held at ImaginOn, uptown.

When: Mid-May 2013.

Cost: Free.

Contact: www.ihclt.org.

This interactive event features live dance performances, crafts, games, authentic regional clothing and traditional music. “We look at it as play is an international language,” said Lara Printz, program coordinator at International House.

International Book Club

Location: International House. (International House, at 322 Hawthorne Lane, is slated to change locations in mid-December, so check the website before visiting).

When: 7 p.m. on third Monday of each month except July, August and December.

Cost: Free.

Call: 704-333-8099.

International House wants to introduce readers to diverse cultures around the globe. Books have included “Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi (Iran); “The Lotus Eaters,” by Tatjana Soli (Vietnam); “Into the Beautiful North,” by Luis Alberto Urrea (Mexico); “City of Falling Angels,” by John Berendt (Italy); and “Out Stealing Horses,” by Per Petterson (Norway).

“It’s an opportunity to read from international authors and have a dialogue,” said Printz. “It gives you a new perspective....and allows you to compare cultures to the U.S.”

International House Exchange

Location: Charlotte (and abroad).

Contact: For details, call Printz, program director at International House, at 704-333-8099.

Throughout the year, International House participates in high school and college student exhange programs. That means opportunities, in Charlotte, to host an international student in your home.The program, in turn, allows area students to stay with host families abroad.

In mid-January, the house will host “Who’s in the House,” an open event where international students will give presentations about their home cultures to community members. Event dates will be updated and posted online at www.ihclt.org.

International Festival at UNC Charlotte

Location: UNC Charlotte

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sept. 28, 2013.

Cost: Free.

At this festival, visitors meander through a marketplace that showcases the cultures of about 50 nations. Booths feature crafts, costumes, international foods for sale and artwork from each country represented.

Throughout the day, musicians take to several stages to highlight authentic music from around the world.

Each year, about 10,000 people attend the celebration, according to the university’s Multicultural Resource Center website.

“One of our goals, as a vibrant part of Charlotte’s community, is to equip our students ... with international and cultural opportunities that we believe will serve them well in whatever path they may choose,” said Maureen White, coordinator of international initiatives at UNC Charlotte.

Let’s Talk About It: Language

Location: UNC Charlotte Student Union, Room 261.

When: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Nov. 27.

Cost: Free.

This session, led by the Multicultural Resource Center, takes language enthusiasts back to the roots of words and how they derive multiple meanings.

It is an open discussion event, so participants are encouraged to share their thoughts. Seating is limited.

Student exchange programs and studying abroad

Location: Global exchange programs and study-abroad opportunities around the world.

When: Semester-based.

Cost: Ranges in cost from full scholarship with zero expenses, to thousands of dollars.

While Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools does not place students abroad, the system does expose students to available study-abroad opportunities, said Stacy Sneed, spokeswoman for CMS.

Scholarships and financial aid are available for students wanting to travel internationally, but students must be willing to take time to track these opportunities down. At a CMS Study Abroad Fair Nov. 2, several student programs were represented:

AFS Intercultural Program, formerly known as the American Field Service, is a nonprofit with exchange programs in more than 40 countries. Contact: www.afs.org.

American Student Exchange Program specializes in student travel and foreign exchange for youths about 15 to 18. Students can design their educational travel experience in more than 40 countries and provinces. Contact: www.afsusa.org.

AYUSA is an international exchange program that offers three academic schedules: Volunteer abroad, study abroad short term, and study abroad long term. Contact: mkto.ayusa.org.

Council on International Educational Exchange is a nonprofit, nongovernmental international exchange organization. In the summer, the program offers more than 60 study programs in about 30 countries. Each year, the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag sponsor 250 American high school students to study and live in Germany for one year on a full scholarship. The program begins in August 2013, and no prior German language experience is required. Students must be between ages 15 and 18 1/2, with a GPA of 3.0. Contact: www.ciee.org.

LPI is a group that works with high school students to provide language and cultural immersion opportunities at an affordable price. www.lpiabroad.com.

Program of Academic Exchange is a nonprofit that seeks to increase respect among people around the world. The program works with high school students in exchange experiences. Contact: www.pax.org.

Youth for Understanding is a nonprofit international educational organization with programs in 64 countries. Contact: www.yfu-usa.org.

Penland: 704-358-6043; Twitter @BrittanyPenland
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