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New Student Club Facilitates Multicultural Exchange

This article appeared in a November 2016 issue of the student newsletter.

By Thu Nguyen, Richland Chronicle

Richland College students celebrate their heritage at the college's 2015 Peace Pole Festival. Photo credit: Paul Knudsen.

There are hundreds of cultures all over the world. Each is unique and beautiful in its own way. No culture has the same standards, beliefs or customs, which makes getting to know people from different cultures an interesting and challenging experience.

Richland is a multicultural environment where you can meet people with different backgrounds from Asia to Africa, Europe and America, North and South. Cultural diversity is apparent when you are walking down the hallway, sitting in any building or having lunch in the cafeteria.

Getting to know people from different cultures is an exciting learning experience, but sometimes the barriers are hard to resolve. As an international student, I understand the difficulties. Language is always the biggest challenge. 

Crossing Cultures

Richland offers students a wide variety of clubs and organizations that encourage cultural exchange. The Crossing Cultures Club is one of them. It began at Richland this semester and is part of the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) organization.

The club is designed to “facilitate multicultural exchange,” as Cody Mahon, volunteer BSM director at Richland, said.  People are free to share their opinions, cultural beliefs and standards. Different perspectives represented during the discussions help people gain awareness and respect of each other’s similarities and differences.

I went to their fourth meeting last Friday and was surprised. As a new club, it has attracted a considerable number of students. 

“We have new faces every week,” Mahon said. The room was full of people from different parts of Africa, Asia, and America talking and getting to know each other.

“What is the greatest crisis facing our global society today?” was the topic for the meeting, which generated an ebullient conversation. At first, people discussed what they perceived as current cultural crises and moved to specific crises happening in their countries from Nigeria, Nepal to Vietnam and America.

After pointing out several disasters happening throughout the world today, they were asked to find solutions. Club members told their personal stories, discussed current events and new lessons. I enjoyed the conversation and learned a lot. 

Connection & Understanding

Today we are living in a globalized society, which makes learning and experiencing different cultures extremely important. Kasey Mahon, co-leader of Crossing Cultures, thought this club is “a great way to meet people, connect to them and begin to understand each other more.”

Crossing Cultures meets every Friday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in El Paso Hall, Room E076, to eat pizza and generate conversation on a specific topic ranging from moral and cultural to global issues. Newcomers are welcome at any time.

With the goal for students from different backgrounds to “begin to understand each other better and form friendships and relationships among different cultures to strengthen the bonds between us,” as Mahon believes, Crossing Cultures is the right place for not only international students but also for those who are American born.