Upcoming International Intercultural Initiatives

By Anna Gombert

     Drew’s INTO program, housed in Tilghman, has numerous intercultural activities planned for this semester.

     Last semester, INTO facilitated a Japanese language program that consisted of five classes and a field trip designed to allow students to use their new language skills. This semester they will offer a Korean language class, following the same format, with the “field trip” potentially involving interaction with Korean graduate students and their families. The class will start the week of March 12, after spring break.

     There will also be a Brazilian culture and Portuguese language class led by Brasa, the new Brazilian Student Association.

     Max Zhang, a Chinese Language and Culture Advisor in the INTO program, is spearheading most of these initiatives.

     Zhang is also trying to start a mentorship program, similar to the conversation partner program. This mentorship program will partner volunteer mentors with international students who will attend events on campus together. The domestic student mentors will help the international students assimilate into the culture so they can feel comfortable going to events by themselves after the program. The mentors will also help international students learn more about making “small talk” and casual conversations with native English speakers. This will also start the week of March 12.

     There will also be the Chinese Social Media Translation Project Presentation. A student who wants to be a professional translator will translate posts written by international students living in America from the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat. She will then share these translated posts in a presentation so that domestic students and staff can better understand the experiences of international students. This will take place in early April.

     There is also the Kenta Brown Bag series. Kenta Aiyama will lead the series and teach about not only Japanese culture but also about the world of Japanese business and customs. He will teach easy and useful Japanese phrases and greetings used in the business setting. He will also talk about Japanese higher education. This will also start the week of March 12.

     INTO Story Slam will be in conjunction with Jennifer Ostrega, an ESL teacher. The mission of the Story Slam is to give international students a platform where they can share their stories and experiences with the wider Drew community so there is a better understanding between the two.

     Zhang also wants to work to improve the International Theme House, which currently resides in Haselton 2. He hopes to recruit more faculty for an advisory board that will help with programming and advising.

     “The way I look at international students is that they are treasure chests gifted to us by globalization,” said Zhang. “If we leave them be, most of them would just be closed wooden treasure boxes walking around. But if we make the effort to get close and open them up, we’d see all these shiny and priceless gems resting inside. The world is within reach all along, it is whether we see it and take advantage.”
For inquiries, contact Max Zhang at yzhang@drew.edu.

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