April 29, 2011

C.H.A.N.C.E. Floor Celebrates Different Cultures and Backgrounds

Members of CHANCE are front row from left: Alex Beeman ’11, Atu Samu ’11, Alex Smith ’11, and Zujjaj Bakht ’11; Second row: Kate Yoder ’13, Susan Grunewald ’11, Jennifer Kihm ’11, Samatha Patterson ’11, and Joe Prati ’13; Back row: Ryan King ’12 and Daniel Kim ’13.

For Susan Grunewald ’11 (Wilton, Conn.), graduation will be a little bittersweet. “I wanted to live in a community where I could expand my knowledge of other cultures.  I’ll be sad when I have to move out for the last time in May. The C.H.A.N.C.E. floor feels like a real home to me.”

Located on the first floor of Ramer Hall, the C.H.A.N.C.E. (Creating Harmony and Necessary Cultural Equality) floor “aims to provide information about many cultures, and promotes equality for all students regardless of race, gender, status, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation,” explains co-president Samantha Patterson ’11 (Jamaica, N.Y.), an English major.

“C.H.A.N.C.E. provides cultural education emphasizing diversity and equality for all races and backgrounds,” she adds. “It prepares members for interaction with the diverse and multicultural demographic both on and off the Lafayette campus.”

Grunewald, a Russian and East European studies major who also serves as co-president, has enjoyed her time living on the floor.

“It’s nice to walk into the lounge and smell wonderful different foods being cooked in the kitchen.  It’s cool to walk down the hall and listen to all of the international music or students speaking a wide variety of foreign languages.  I think the floor is important because it gives everyone who lives on the floor as well as anyone from the Lafayette community the opportunity to stop by and learn about other cultures outside of the classroom,” she says.

For the past two years, C.H.A.N.C.E. has hosted International Get Down, a campus wide event at the Spot student night club. Floor members decorate The Spot with flags and maps and play international music. The floor also has regular programs during the year that include film screenings of foreign films and an annual potluck dinner where everyone prepares a dish from their culture and explains the cultural significance of the food.

“Food is a good way to open up cultural discussions,” explains Grunewald.  “Just by explaining the dish, I’m privy to a whole lesson on someone’s culture.”

Members also participate in cultural awareness events like the International Student Association’s Extravaganza and a roundtable discussion for Women’s History Month.

This year, Zujjaj Bakht ’11 serves as the floor’s secretary and Ryan King ’12 is the floor’s treasurer.  Emily Musil-Church, assistant professor of history, is faculty adviser.

For Grunewald, her experiences with C.H.A.N.C.E. have taught her a great deal.

“I have learned a lot about cultures that I probably would not have otherwise interacted with,” she says. “We have or had students from Malawi, Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad. Something will come up in casual conversation and someone will say, ‘Well, back home…’”

posted in Extraordinary Campus, News and Features, Students

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