International Center of Topeka cultivates appreciation for different cultures

Organization to host open house Friday on Washburn campus

Throughout the academic year, members of the International Center of Topeka help make the city a home for Washburn University’s international students while also organizing cultural events for the community.


The center, which is affiliated with Washburn, has about 40 members.

ICT president Patricia Dahl said they are looking to expand its membership and opportunities for collaborations with other local groups.

During the 2016-2017 school year, the organization has hosted a welcome brunch for incoming international students, lectures, a holiday dinner and its 10th annual cultural festival which took place in March. Each year a different country or region is highlighted during the festival. This year’s event included a panel discussion, children’s activities and food from the Middle East.

“The overall mission of ICT is to cultivate interest and appreciation on the campus and in the surrounding Topeka community for international and intercultural issues through educational, cultural and social programs,” Dahl said.

Another major component of the center’s work is welcoming many of the 300 or so international students from 34 different countries who study at Washburn each semester, Dahl said.

Volunteers have lent support to students lately, Dahl said, because of an uncertain climate in the world.

ICT, which was founded in 1980, also offers free tutoring to English language learners. Volunteers help Washburn students and others in the community master English as a second language, Dahl said.

Retired social worker Anita Epps has tutored students for several years and said it’s been an enriching experience.

“Not only have I felt I have been helpful to people from all over the world living in Topeka, I have forged close ties with the students as well as others involved in the organization,” Epps said. “I have also learned much about other countries as well as my own.”

The center will host an open house for prospective members from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 21 at Washburn University’s International House, 1700 S.W. College Ave.

Membership costs $10 for students and $25 for individuals and families.

“Members have a lot of opportunities to get involved, meet a wide range of international students, and socialize while volunteering and helping to support Topeka’s international community and cultural events,” Dahl said.