Musician, activist and social entrepreneur Derrick Ashong discussed the importance of multiculturalism and international cooperation at a presentation that kicked off International Education Week at the University of Central Florida.

Ashong spoke to nearly 300 people Monday, Nov. 15. His presentation was hosted by the UCF International Service Center and Global Perspectives Office.

Ashong hosts The Derrick Ashong Experience on SIRIUS XM’s Oprah Radio, which is streamed live at A graduate of Harvard University, he is continuing his studies there as a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology and African-American studies.

Born in Ghana, Ashong travels the world speaking about building bridges among the fields of business, media, technology, youth culture, pop culture and politics.

He discussed his eventful childhood, which included fleeing a bloody coup in Ghana followed by more peaceful times in Brooklyn, N.Y. His father’s career then took Ashong to Saudi Arabia and Qatar before he returned to the United States.

Ashong said those experiences gave him a unique perspective on the world. Early on, he learned the importance of understanding other cultures, which he said leads to better communication, cooperation and peace.

He encouraged students in the audience to hold on to their own cultural backgrounds, even as they adapt to American culture.

International Education Week was a celebration of international education and exchange worldwide. Held at schools around the United States, the event is a joint initiative between the U.S. departments of State and Education. At least a dozen UCF departments were involved with this year’s activities.

UCF participants in International Education Week included the International Services Center, Global Perspectives Office, Office of International Studies, Office of Internationalization, College of Education, Faculty Center, International Student Association, Colombian Student Association, Recreation and Wellness Center, Dining Services, Center for Multilingual Multicultural Studies, Student Development and Enrollment Services, UCF Libraries, Burnett Honors College, Career Services, Office for Corporate Partnerships and Career Management, Experiential Learning, UCF Police Department and Victim Services.