Around the world in five minutes

Christina Stavale

Residence hall program promotes students’ various backgrounds

Physics major Kabi Bantawa, originally from Nepal, is proud of his country’s rich culture.

At 8 p.m. last night he and many other students gathered in Olson Hall lounge for the program “5 Minutes Around the World.” Through this program, students had the opportunity to talk about the unique aspects of their culture while learning about others.

Teresa Belfiore, senior integrated language arts major and resident assistant in Olson Hall, created “5 Minutes Around the World” so international and other cultural students could share their diversity.

Belfiore said she got the idea from speaking to freshman communication studies major Nidal Ibourk about her culture at the beginning of the year. Ibourk is from Morocco.

“I enjoyed the conversation and wanted to give others the opportunity to do the same,” Belfiore said.

Along with her fellow resident assistants in Lake and Olson Halls, Jacob Roope, Danielle Diener, Kristen Binggeli, Alexandria Styles and LaQuita Jones, Belfiore put the program together in a game format similar to speed dating.

However, students attending this program were not looking for a date for Saturday night. Instead, the program gave students five minutes to speak to people from different backgrounds about the ways culture affects their lives.

“It’s a chance to chat with someone and learn about diverse backgrounds,” Belfiore said.

Students were able to carry on everyday conversations with people from very different backgrounds about various aspects of life. For example, Lucie Luprichova from the Czech Republic chatted with American students about social life and partying in her countries.

Bantawa, on the other hand, spoke about Nepal’s religion and traditions.

“Culturally, we are very rich,” Bantawa said.

He talked to American students about the major festivals in Nepal, including Diwali, the Festival of Lights. He also explained that Buddhism originated in his country, although now most people who live there practice Hinduism.

Students also spoke about family life outside of America.

Rodrigo Uribe, junior fine arts major and president of Spanish and Latino Student Association, said he is originally from Mexico City, where his family still resides. He said families in Mexico are very close.

“I go back every year and my whole family lives in the same apartment building,” he said. “If I am spending time with my grandmother, I only have to go downstairs to see my aunt.”

Other conversations centered around education and learning in other countries.

“In Morocco, people learn to learn, and not just to study for a test,” Ibourk said.

She also said in Morocco schools have only a midterm and a final for classes, and hardly any work in between.

Freshman nursing major Elizabeth McManus said that she learned a lot from the program.

“The most interesting thing was learning about how different education was and how learning is different,” she said.

All of the international students emphasized that students do not have to be from a certain country to join cultural groups on campus.

“Anyone who is interested can join and learn a lot,” Uribe said about SALSA.

The Olson and Lake resident assistants agreed that the program was a success.

“I hope it will allow people to appreciate differences and learn that we are all very much the same,” Belfiore said.

Contact features correspondent Christina Stavale at [email protected].