Exploring the meaning of diversity

The newly inaugerated Epler Residence Hall contains a new kind of housing community for PSU students. The “Global Village” program, contained on the sixth floor of the new low-environmental-impact building, aims to foster cultural exchange for both international and domestic students at PSU.

The program, which is part of a new effort by PSU to attract more residential freshman and international students, currently houses students from France, India, Japan, Nepal, South Korea and Taiwan. These students are paired with domestic students in apartment-style double-occupancy rooms.

The program퀌_s goal is to provide American students exposure to different cultures and international students as well as the local student community.

“It’s just a really cool community to be in; we all have our doors open,” says Danny House, a sophomore design student and Global Village resident.

House was attracted to the program because of his interest in Japanese, which he has studied for seven years. As a Global Village resident, he퀌_s gained exposure to Asian students and a chance to practice his language skills.

The program provides an “opportunity to create a relationship with someone from a different culture that helps students to challenge the beliefs and assumptions that they hold,” assistant dean of students Michele Toppe said.

Sybil Lanthorn, the resident assistant for the Global Village program, spent the summer studying in Spain and draws upon her own experience abroad to understand the issues facing foreign students entering a new environment.

Lanthorn has also helped create a variety of activities and events for Global Village residents.

One feature of the program is each month퀌_s theme, such as November �s “challenging your global perspective” and “community service” in April. Lectures, films and other activities also accent the monthly themes.

Activities so far have included a sushi party and traditional Jewish dinner . Future events will explore the frontiers of cultural diversity in more depth.

Myah Moore, the area coordinator for the Ondine, says that she hopes the program will “give students an opportunity to challenge their ideas about what diversity means.” She added that the Global Village will focus on issues such as gender and sexuality in addition to race and ethnicity.

Moore mentioned that future workshops may focus on such topics as “white privilege” or arranged marriages.

“There’s nothing really limiting us,” Lanthorn says. “We get to shape the program the way we want. We all get to learn from each other.”