“As an aspiring artist, my goals align with the notion of exploring different aspects of the world, and one important factor regarding that is getting to know other cultures and building a network of people with different areas of knowledge, experience, and cultures.”
Jude, First-year Business of Art and Design
What began as a strategic initiative to expand the international student population at Ringling College of Art and Design has become an integral part of the College’s mission. Today, the College’s international population has grown to around the 20% mark, with students hailing from more than 60 countries.
This living, breathing manifestation of diversity brings together students from varied backgrounds. There are now 40 Davis United World College Scholars at Ringling College. They come to the College having lived and studied in countries other than their own. Here, they interact with other international students who have ventured outside of their countries’ borders, along with American students fresh from transformative study experiences abroad, those planning to study abroad, and those who have never left the United States. Added to the mix are students who have engaged in self-directed international travel and international internships and projects.
It is significant that this cross-cultural networking is done in a creative context. Art and design and the creative process thrive when enriched by difference—of concept, of perspective, of execution. These activities are defined, in large part, by culture. Culture plays a substantial role in determining how we see the world, what we value, how we express ourselves, and who we are. As artists, working with individuals from different cultures is both challenging and enriching.
“You can’t know yourself unless you know the world.”
Joshua, Second-year Illustration
Imagine a world in which everyone approached a challenge through the same cultural lens. Consider how one-dimensional the solution created would be. Now imagine viewing that same challenge through many cultural lenses. How many more inputs to the solution would you now have?
There is such richness inherent in exposure to perspectives and ideas different from our own. From the day prospective students step on campus for Preview Day, they are exposed to people from other countries, and it continues through their Ringling College experience. Students live, dine, socialize, and learn with students whose perspectives are very different from their own. They learn to bridge any differences, both as people and as artists and designers, through their interactions with each other. Later, when confronted professionally with a global society, they are prepared to navigate their way through cultural differences.
In the classroom, students are encouraged to bring their cultural perspectives to their creative work. It could take the form of a lively debate about the role of the artist in a particular culture, or through International Education Week activities that highlight a sense of home through a photography exhibition. It may be a session at which students talk about their study-abroad experiences. Whatever the forum, creativity enhanced by intercultural experience yields amazing results.
“…Diversity opens the door to the world and prepares students to engage in the global society. Diversity enables students to think creatively by interacting with others from different backgrounds.”
Seongwoo Nam, Entertainment Design Professor
BEYOND OUR BORDERS
Ringling College is committed to international outreach to foster connections overseas and to advance its aspiration to become the preeminent art and design college in the world. In support of these goals, Ringling College President Larry R. Thompson and Entertainment Design Faculty Seongwoo Nam have made two trips to South Korea, the most recent this past summer. The purpose of the last journey was threefold: to meet prospective students and their parents, introducing them to the College and its offerings; to communicate with parents of current students; and to enhance the international recognition of Ringling College. The trip yielded initial relationships with the Korea National University of Arts (KArts), the most prestigious art and design college in Seoul, and the Seoul Art High School, the only art high school in Seoul focusing solely on the visual arts. KArts hosted a groundbreaking exhibition of Ringling student work, the first time the work of students from another college was exhibited at KArts.
The visit exceeded expectations, yielding feature stories—not paid advertisements—in three of the most widely read and respected publications in Korea. Furthermore, the College was invited to participate in the July Seoul Imagination Industry Forum, at which representatives spoke to large international audiences about the College and its mission. Ringling College was also given the honor of opening the showroom at the International Digital Art Fair, the largest digital arts fair in Asia, in October. Plans are underway to arrange similar visits to both China and Japan… and beyond.
“When we hear different perspectives, experience ways of living that are different from ours, talk to people in a different language, surround ourselves with new traditions, then we realize that we are not the center of the world, and there is actually no center. The world is big and we should all fit on it.”
Mafer, First-year Film student
Armed with intercultural understanding, Ringling College graduates are poised to put their creative talents to work. They have learned to appreciate cultural differences and realize that their creative endeavors are enhanced by their having experienced a community of the world… this world on which we all do fit.
OUR STUDENTS ARE CITIZENS OF…
- EL SALVADOR
- HONG KONG
- PR CHINA
- SLOVAK REPUBLIC
- S. KOREA
By Amy Pettengill, Director of International Student Affairs
Artwork By Yekyung Kwon, Illustration’20, Born In Seoul, South Korea