ICC students get a cultural experience

Feb. 27, 2013 @ 04:30 AM

Living in a small county, it’s easy to forget about the vast world around you. Bridging the gap between a rural county in North Carolina and countries across the world can be a difficult task.

Students at Isothermal Community College worked to bridge this gap during Cultural Awareness and Diversity Day on Tuesday that was hosted by the student government association and the Team for the Advancement of Learning College Cultural Events Taskforce. The event began with a presentation on Indonesia from Harold and Brenda Bracken. The couple lived in the country for 18 years where they were missionaries.

“We talked to students about their culture and the different ways they do things in relation to us. For instance, when they are going in between people, instead of saying ‘excuse me’ they bow with their right hand to the floor,” Brenda said. “Living there was a wonderful experience. We enjoy telling people about it.”

A panel of international ICC students also answered questions about their cultures.

“I see that we have many students on campus that are from other countries. I wanted to give them the opportunity to share the challenges they faced when they came here,” said Ruth Colnot, student activities coordinator.

Students on the panel included Stephanie Brook, Ireland; Niesha Eash, Brazil; Maday Mesa-Hernandez, Cuba; Syed Hussain, Pakistan; Teresa Rivas, El Salvador and Maria Rodriquez from Mexico. They answered questions about family, education and the differences between their culture and American culture.

Colnot and members of the student government association put together an international coffee hour featuring coffee, teas and dessert from around the world.

“The coffee is from Sumatra, which is a region in Indonesia and the pineapple is actually from Costa Rica,” Colnot said.

To close the event, ICC students used technology to Skype with Costa Rican college students with Spanish instructor Maria Bivins moderating.

“It is important to bridge the cultural gap from our country to others. It is important to open up conversations to help the students understand cultural differences,” Bivins said. “Students are already using this technology with their friends. It is cool to show them they can use it to talk to people in other countries. This also encourages students to study abroad.”