West Virginia University is bringing the international experience to local high school students.
“Building an Inclusive Community” is a partnership between WVU, the city of Morgantown and the Monongalia County School District in which WVU’s Office for Social Justice works with University High School to bring international students and faculty into the school.
“I am a great believer when you are talking about multiculturalism, there is nothing better than meeting real people,” said Barbara White, librarian at University High School in Morgantown. “It is vital to learn about other cultures. The world is such that more and more people work in environments where they get to know people from around the world.”
An international student or faculty member will visit the school once a week for the rest of the year – an initiative dubbed the Global Culture Series.
Several of WVU’s 1,400 international students have volunteered to visit the school and share their culture with the students, representing countries such as Vietnam, Italy, India, China, Pakistan and Kenya.
Ellen Rodrigues, a political science doctoral student from Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, is helping to organize the lectures.
“This is a great opportunity to bring people from all over the world to these students,” she said. “Growing up in Brazil I was always very curious about other cultures and I know this is something the students will remember always.”
When Rodrigues visited the high school, she spoke to more than 100 students about the carnival, jungles, beaches, soccer and other joys of Brazil.
Each presenter will share information about what they know and what interests them in their country; topics include dance, food, music and traditions, among other things.
The program is also a good learning experience for the international students and faculty, said Jennifer McIntosh, director of the WVU President’s Office for Social Justice.
“A lot of these people have never had a chance to see an American high school. This is a great opportunity for them to experience this part of our culture,” McIntosh said. “It is a win-win all the way.”
For more information on the President’s Office for Social Justice, visit http://socialjustice.wvu.edu/ .
By Colleen DeHart
WVU News and Information Services
CONTACT: Charles Morris, President’s Office for Social Justice