Cultural Connections Discusses Natural Disaster

Josh Defibaugh

 Western Illinois University’s Center for International Studies hosted a Cultural Connections event in the Multicultural Center on Tuesday.

 The Center for International Studies, part of the Office of International Student Services, hosts approximately seven to eight Cultural Connections
events each semester.

 Dana Zivdal, an assistant director in the Center for International Studies, says the biggest goal of these Cultural Connections events is to help bring students from different backgrounds
to talk about ideas.

 “It’s just an informal gathering to connect students from all different backgrounds,” Zivdal says. “We select a topic and then provide questions to guide the discussion.”

 If students veer away from those scripted questions and go off topic, Zivdal thinks “that’s totally fine.”

 “We just really want students to meet new people,” Zivdal said. “(And) talk about different backgrounds and different cultures and have a place where they can come to learn about each other.”

 Previous topics up for discussion in Cultural Connections have been world celebrations, love, dating, and marriage, and minority health awareness. The most recent one focused on natural disasters.

 Groups of students sat together to discuss the different aspects of natural disasters throughout the world.

 One question that seemed to be difficult to answer for students was, “Can you tell the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon, and a cyclone?”

 Anita Sells, a University 100 instructor, brought her class to Cultural Connections because of the unit on the syllabus, Cultural Diversity and Social Awareness.

 “I thought it would be just as good to bring the class (to the Multicultural Center),” Sells said. “As opposed to) bringing an international student to the class.”

 Sells thinks it is easier  to engross students with discussions rather than lecture about the units her class is studying.

 Bri Hines, a health services management major at Western hoped to learn more about natural disasters.

 “I want to learn things about disasters,” Hines said. “The only thing I usually hear (about disasters) come from the news. The news only tells you so much so maybe I’ll learn some actual stuff.”

 While some students wanted to discuss things related to natural disasters, others wanted to just meet students and engage in friendlyconversation.

 Bayan Aljamal, a Western as a second language major and international student at Western, said she came to Cultural Connections to socialize.

 “I’m looking for friends and I’m hoping to practice my English,” she said.

 The next Cultural Connections events will discuss World Celebration and the importance of female superheroes. They events will be held on March 1 and March 22 from 12:30 to 1:30.