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Students merge cultures with new global residence program

Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 23:09

global engagement

Paige Walker, staff photographer

Cortney Wolf, a sophomore early childhood education major from Weiner, and Ya Su, a senior sociology major from Beijing, China, share a mirror as they get ready in their dorm in the Global Engagement LLC. (Photo Illustration)

  This fall, the department of residence life introduced a new special interest housing option for students interested in broadening their cultural horizons and making friends from across the globe.

Building two of NorthPark Quads is now home to the Global Engagement Living-Learning Community, which pairs domestic and international students together to promote the sharing of cultures and traditions.

According to Melissa Turner, residence life’s international liaison, the goal of the program is to create a friendly, inclusive environment that fosters new friendships and enhances cultural awareness.

“We live in a culturally infused world. It is important to prepare our students for what they’ll encounter in the real world,” Turner said. “We want to produce interdependent global citizens.”

With multitude of international students attending ASU each semester, the university tries to make campus feel like a home away from home. The department is pairing with the office of international programs to show students a hearty American welcome by planning events that encourage residents to get acquainted with one another.

“The more you get to know people and learn about different cultures, the easier it is to find similarities between each other,” Turner said.  “Once we realize how much we have in common, we stop paying so much attention to what sets us apart.”

Yejin Tae, a junior business administration major of South Korea, is one of the resident assistants in the new LLC. She said the new program has gone over better than she expected, with no major problems as of yet.  
“People like to mingle in the common areas,” Tae said. “I can walk down the hall and hear six languages at once. It’s really awesome.”

 Northeast Arkansas has already made quite an impression on sophomore marketing major Jesper Henriksen, an exchange student from Koleing, Denmark. He said he didn’t expect to adjust so quickly to American life.

“You feel like you belong the moment you get your key. Everyone is very social and you’re immediately part of the campus and everything that goes on around it. I really like it here,” Henriksen said.

Acclimating to a new culture while taking classes taught in a foreign language is undoubtedly a challenge, but it is one Henriksen welcomes wholeheartedly.

 “I’m actually a little sad I’m only staying for one semester. School is harder, but the slight differences about everything here amuse me.” he said. “It makes me smile when I discover things I haven’t seen before. I get a lot of joy even in the small pointless details.

Minus the vicious mosquitoes,
Henriksen said he is very pleased with his new home.

‘“So far, all my expectations have been fulfilled. This country is really different, but in a positive way,” he said.

Dylan Carrion, senior exercise science major of Plano, Texas, is one of Henriksen’s quad-mates. Carrion is no stranger to interacting with a diverse crowd through his time as a rugby team member.

“Living with people from a different culture is definitely interesting. If you’re open to meeting new people, it’s a great opportunity to learn about a different way of life,” Carrion said.

Carrion plans to make sure his new friend’s time in America is lived to the fullest and wants to show him the best of what Jonesboro and other parts of the U.S. have to offer.

Exposure to new traditions and ideals through intercultural friendships is an invaluable experience that can allow students to see the world through a wider lens and come to appreciate the world as a global community.


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1 comments Log in to Comment

Fri Sep 6 2013 16:50
This is a great idea, because being an international student in the US isn't easy, given our complex culture and language, and for some, being away from home for the first time. A new award-winning worldwide book/ebook that helps anyone coming to the US is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More." It paints a revealing picture of America for those who will benefit from a better understanding, including international students. Endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also identifies "foreigners" who became successful in the US and how they contributed to our society, including students.
A chapter on education identifies schools that are free and explains how to be accepted to an American university and cope with such things as a new culture, friendship process and classroom differences they will encounter. Some stay after graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work for an American firm here or overseas. It also has chapters that identify the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.
Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools' international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and books like this to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation. Good luck to all wherever you study!

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