Senior civic project bridges gap between domestic and international students at Drew

by Laura Archer, Staff Writer

On Monday, Senior Civic Scholar Danielle Dorvil hosted the event “Immigration: Bridging the Cultural Gaps.” The purpose of the event was to inform both domestic and international students about the adjustments that come with attending a school in a foreign country. According to Collegeboard, 8% of students on Drew’s campus are from over 40 countries.

 

The open discussion featured two students who reflected on their transition from their home countries to Drew. One student from Brazil and the other from Malaysia, both discussed the influence of stereotypes. They stated that the influence went both ways; they were hesitant about Americans because of the stereotypes they heard, but likewise they felt they were put into a stereotypical category when interacting with people. Dorvil also made an effort to allow and create an open space for domestic students to ask international students questions, placing emphasis that this is a two way street, and in order to fully understand the culture issues each group must be willing to openly communicate.

 

Following the discussion, participants joined in a group activity to help show the differences and similarities between everyone. Starting off in a single line, people were told to step forwards or backwards when they identified with a statement that was read. Some statements included “Take a step forwards if one or both of your parents graduated college” and “take a step backwards if you were ever judged because of your race/gender/orientation/etc.” In the end, participants could view where everyone was standing in comparison to where it all began.  Following this activity smaller groups were formed to discuss individual accounts of coming across cultural differences, and then ended with another open group discussion.
This event served as an important learning tool to the student population. In congruence with the current climate around immigration, the open discussion allowed for students to ask questions and learn more about the experiences of being an immigrant in the U.S. After this event students felt more connected to each other as well as sympathetic and concerned for the transitions immigrants must face.  

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