House Promotes Global Culture
February 13, 2009 Leave a comment
by Erica Mundell
Long before the availability of application for themed housing, the International House on Broadway has given students with an interest in foreign languages and cultures a place to enhance and develop their learning of such and was a springboard for themed housing. The building houses students who have a common passion for foreign languages, and who aim to spread this same passion and awareness to the campus of Transylvania University.
“The mission of the house is in part to make the Transy community more aware of other cultures and languages. The other part is for students to use the language, and learn and share in it in an informal setting,” said adviser and Spanish professor Danae Orlins.
The house holds a total of 12 to 16 students. There are four apartments and each holds three to four students. The rooms are spacious, and each room has its own kitchen and bathroom. There are also two large rooms that can be used according to the residents’ discretion. The students keep the house decorated with the represented cultures, and also maintain the common areas and apartments.
Last year, the house underwent serious renovations. “There were a lot of mold problems that were making some of the building structurally unsafe,” said Orlins.
The unsafe parts of the wing were torn away in the interior, and it was completely redone. The plumbing was repaired and replaced, new flooring was added and a little more closet space as well. The bathrooms and kitchens all have new fixtures as well. “We plan to expand eventually to add a bigger commons and more apartments, but it’s just too expensive to do all at once,” Orlins said.
There is a conversation hour each week for each language. “It’s an opportunity for the students to speak the language without being graded,” said Orlins.
The residents of the International House also hold celebrations for holidays of the cultures they are learning about. Oktoberfest, Mardi Gras and Cinco de Mayo are the three main holidays the students celebrate. The house is decorated accordingly, and food in keeping with the holidays is served. The participants play traditional games, like finding the toy baby in the king cake to win a prize for Mardi Gras.
The parties and conversation hours are not just for residents of the house, however. They are always open to the campus. “Most people are under the misconception that you have to be a language major or minor to live in the house but that’s not true! All that’s required is a genuine love and respect for all the cultures of the world and an appreciation of global variety,” said senior and resident Adrienne Singleton.
“If we can expand, I would like to see more things like cooking lessons or speakers or maybe even a visiting scholar living in and contributing for the house,” said Orlins. “That will probably all be down the road, but I believe that it has a lot of potential for helping students expand their learning.”
“As a French major rooming with another French major, the language is put to good use through our conversations, the music we listen to and the films we watch,” said senior Marci Cornett. “The International House has allowed the French language to become an essential part of my daily life.”
Applications to live in the International House are due Friday, Feb. 13. If you are interested, contact Dr. Orlins at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.