NC State Students Go Global

Thanks to Global Village, NC State students gain international experience and cultural competency right on campus. International and domestic students room together in Alexander Hall while connecting with people of diverse backgrounds, exploring different cultures and traveling with fellow villagers.

By bringing students together in this manner, we’re helping create a more diverse and welcoming environment at the university.

“By bringing students together in this manner, we’re helping create a more diverse and welcoming environment at the university,” said Julie Parenteau, Global Village director. “They receive preparation to participate in an increasingly competitive global marketplace by immersing themselves in a rich multicultural experience.

This experience wouldn’t be possible without NC State’s reputation as a world-class higher educational institution. The makeup of Global Village supports the university’s appeal — students come from across North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

“There are 20 different countries represented in Global Village; you’re meeting a lot of different people and you get to see how different people and their cultures interact,” said Sami Chowdhury, a business administration major from Australia, whose home institution is the University of Adelaide. “I’m here on exchange for a year and I didn’t know anyone before I came. I saw that the Global Village was half international and half American, so I wanted to be around people who were experiencing the same thing as me, but around Americans who wanted to experience other cultures as well.”

Throughout the year, these students engage in a wealth of activities that supplement their NC State education. Faculty lead a programming series on global and cultural issues, discussion groups meet to talk about international awareness and current events, and students work to practice their language skills.

Shared experiences give students a place from which to explore how cultural exchange works and how differences shape one’s education and view of society. Of course, many students find that cultural differences give way to commonalities realized through friendships forged in the village.

“When you hang out with people from various cultures, you learn that we’re not a whole lot different,” said Alfie Oppy, a junior originally from Monash University in Australia. “There are some slight differences, but a majority of people want to be able to have fun and connect with other people. The best way to dispel any myths and rumors is actually getting to know people that are different from you. All those barriers and walls disappear.”

Breaking down barriers often occurs at special events like Cup of Culture, where residents taste authentic cuisine from each others’ cultures; Language Cafés, where they learn to speak parts of a different language; and coffee talks, where dialogue takes place on issues impacting these cultures.

“I have co-led coffee talks about a shifting climate and depleting biodiversity to spark multi-perspective discussion, and multiple Cups of Culture focused on Scandinavia,” said senior plant and microbial biology major Kris Petterson. “Global Village and its events have opened my eyes to national narratives and American culture from an outsider’s perspective. Participating in the village has also equipped me for international work and research.”

In today’s climate in particular, preparing for global citizenship after NC State is increasingly important. Employers look for highly-skilled employees who can interact in an international context, and the world could certainly use more citizens with cultural empathy and competency.

“We all share that same core of shared values — at least we have many overlapping values,” said Nolan Joyce, Oppy’s roommate and a electrical and computer engineering major. “It is really great to see we share commonalities, but there are differences and I love learning about them. You really see people as people, and even though culture is a really big part, you see them for who they are.”

Vishaal Pillai

First-Year, Management

What are you most excited for in the Global Village?
I’m most excited about getting to know my fellow residents and immersing myself in a multicultural environment.  The various events planned for the village seem engaging and fun.

How do you hope your experience in the Global Village will help you academically?
Living in the Global Village will surround me with like-minded students with the same academic goals as me. I can already picture having a study group at 2 a.m. cramming for my calculus test.

How do you hope your experience will help you find a home within NC State?
Home is where you are comfortable and feel like you belong. Engaging in the planned events and befriending my fellow residents will help me find my place and make me feel at home.

Kris Petterson

Senior, Plant and Microbial Biology

How did you get involved in the Global Village?
My family is from Sweden. Growing up with a strong cultural influence from my farmor and farfar (father’s mother and father’s father in Swedish), I wanted to reconnect with my roots following their passing and thought Global Village to be a mechanism for this.

How has your experience in the Global Village impacted you academically, socially and otherwise?
Having a major in the hard sciences along with balancing a job and lab work typically would not allow for a social life or the development of cultural competence. Living in an environment from which I can jump right into or emerge from studying to foster a sense of family, and belonging amongst at first strangers, is an absolute joy and gift. It has enriched my life immensely.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to get involved in the Global Village or any other Living and Learning Village?
Open your door, open your mind, and listen to perspectives that challenge your sense of comfort. Though seemingly uncharted territory at the start, it helps you to find a sense of self in a shifting world, a greater understanding, appreciation and respect for those from different environments.

Mahappu Koralalage Koralage

First-Year, Engineering
(Sri Lanka)

What are you most excited for in the Global Village?
I am most excited for the opportunity to engage in community service, and also to meet other fellow international students at NC State.

How do you hope your experience in the Global Village will help you academically?
It is my wish that my time in the Global Village will have a positive impact on my school work. Hopefully it expands my learning capabilities and skills.

How do you hope your experience will help you find a home within NC State?
I hope it helps me fit into the local culture and it would be special to experience American culture with other international students. Eventually, I hope all the connections I make in the village will help me feel at home at NC State.

Nolan Joyce

Sophomore, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Why do you think as a college student it is important to be culturally competent and be able to interact with people of different cultures?
We always hear that it is an ever-expanding global market. I’m learning about how other people do different things and sometimes I like the way they do it better and I’ll adopt those. And I assume I have the same effect on international students. We cross cultures and get a better picture of the world we live in, which I think is cool.

Do you have any advice for someone who might be interested in learning about other cultures?”
The best thing you can do is to meet people, because they really want to meet you and that’s why they came here.

Alfie Oppy

Junior, History
(Monash University, Australia)

Why did you choose to study at NC State?
Back home they really encourage you to do a semester on exchange. I wanted to come to the U.S. to do that. I was doing some tours and I liked the look and feel of NC State.

Why do you think as a college student it is important to be culturally competent and be able to interact with people of different cultures?
Melbourne (where I’m from) is really an international city. There’s a lot of different cultures all mixed together. Here, you also get to learn about different people and things that they do that are slightly different, and how similar we are as well. It is such a good skill to get, especially with the world the way it is, people migrating, coming from everywhere. Just having the experience of meeting people makes adjusting to the workforce a lot easier.

Do you have any advice for someone who might be interested in learning about other cultures?
As an international student, the Americans in Global Village have been great to come up and start talking to us and making us feel welcome. The best option is to go up and say hello to someone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’re more than happy to talk about our differences. We really are wanting to meet Americans and get to know them.

Sami Chowdhury

Business Administration
(University of Adelaide, Australia)

What attracted you to Global Village?
I’m here on exchange for a year and I didn’t know anyone before I came. I saw that the Global Village was half international and half American, so I wanted to be around people who were experiencing the same thing as me, but around Americans who wanted to experience other cultures as well.

How do you feel living in Global Village will help you become more culturally competent?
There are 20 different countries represented in Global Village. You’re meeting a lot of different people in a short amount of time. You see how different people and their cultures interact.

What sort of experiences do you hope will further your career development?
Not a lot of people in Australia do exchanges. It is becoming a bit more common now. Living in a completely different country that I’ve never been to before, meeting a bunch of different people from different parts of the world will help me a lot in the job market and separate me from others.

Aleksandr Beaudoin

Senior, Marketing and French

How did you get interested in Global Village?
I came to NC State because I wanted a bigger community. I’m a very social person. A lot of my friends happened to live in Global Village and through interaction with them I became interested. I lived in Global Village, then went abroad, and then decided to be an ambassador for the dorm, and this is my second year being an ambassador. It was a way for me to make a lot of connections and networking especially, but having fun at the same time.

Do you hope to engage more internationally once you graduate?
I plan on moving to Europe next summer and living in France. I’ve started a clothing business based on my experiences living in Global Village, mixed with traveling with street style. I’ve combined my passion for clothing and a travel blog, and am doing so on a very personal level. My experience in Global Village is definitely helping in that realm.

What sort of activities do you do in the Global Village?
We do a lot of cultural events and try to develop an increasing amount of global awareness. One of the fun ones is called Cups of Culture. We get people from a different region to cook food from that area. They’ll give a presentation on where they’re from and try to do some kind of activity that relates to where they’re from, their culture and history. Also, last year we had a language cafe. It is a fun way to get people thinking about other languages. We try to mix fun activities and ones that have an academic layer to them.

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