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Global Get Together 'Beyond Amazing' ...

November 27, 2017
"Having studied abroad myself, I know that it’s essential . . . to have that outlet to talk about and process your experiences."- Adrian Laudani
On Nov. 3, international students, exchange students and domestic students who have been abroad or have plans to go abroad came together at Chapman Lake for a “Global Get Together.” The event, organized by resident assistant (RA) Adrian Laudani, was co-sponsored by Residence Life, the Study Abroad Office, the Office of International Students and Scholars and Campus Ministries, and was an incredible success.
Laudani serves at the RA for the Global Exchange Residential Learning Community. Global Exchange is in its third year of existence, arising out of a desire to promote cross cultural learning and provide an opportunity for domestic, international, and exchange students to create an active community of diverse perspectives and experiences.

Domestic University of Scranton students apply for the community, agreeing to leave one bedroom in their apartment vacant for an exchange student, and must also demonstrate a commitment to plan and participate in cultural exchange events. Exchange students express interest in participating in the community and are then assigned to an apartment with domestic students. This semester, there are 42 domestic student participants and 13 exchange students.

Throughout the semester, Laudani frequently observed exchange students planning trips around the United States and asking others if they had been there, and if they had, for travel tips. She was moved by their excitement about exploring, and loved being able to listen and understand that joy, having studied abroad in Italy her sophomore year. Those interactions got her thinking.

“Having studied abroad myself, I know that it’s essential when returning from an international experience, or while experiencing one, to have that outlet to talk about and process your experiences,” Laudani shared.

Additionally, as an RA, she realized upperclass students tend to need and receive less attention than first-year students in terms of programming and community building, but that exchange students were more like first-year students in that sense. She wanted to create a meaningful engagement opportunity for them, and also allow them to experience the Chapman Lake Retreat Center, which so many students cherish.

Laudani developed the idea almost entirely on her own, seeking out staff from the co-sponsoring offices for support in logistics. She created a sign-up sheet, planned the entire evening, arranged transportation, and ensured a meal could be shared. In total, there were 45 participants from six continents who connected in small and large groups, discussing questions Laudani developed to help them think critically about their international experiences and what they have learned about themselves and the world through travel. Conversations ranged from fairly deep -- including revelations about how several of the students had experienced looking out at the ocean or mountains, and feeling so small but simultaneously feeling so connected to others -- to light and often humorous, including one discussion about cultural adjustments, like how it is customary to say “God Bless You” in the U.S. when someone sneezes, but that instead of saying it after sneezing, in Croatia, you say something similar after showering. At the start of the evening, Laudani showed the students a chart of where everyone was from, had visited, or planned to visit to demonstrate the wide range of countries represented, and to emphasize their reach across the globe. The students also brought a token from their travels and shared what was meaningful to them about the item. They broke from structured dialogue to share a meal, and ended the evening making s’mores around a campfire, a first for many of the students.

Feedback from the "Global Get Together" was incredibly positive, with one student sharing it was “enlightening finding people who can appreciate what I miss,” and another simply stating, “it was beyond amazing.”

Every student said they would attend again, and Laudani has already begun working to secure a date for the spring, hoping this is the start of an incredible semesterly tradition!
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