Lakeland’s Global Student Association has long celebrated the university’s spectacular diversity, dazzling the campus community each year with the much-anticipated International Food Festival and International Night.
GSA President Avinash Limbu thinks it’s important to more proactively share LU’s cultural wealth off campus.
“The GSA isn’t just about international students interacting with each other,” said Limbu. “It’s also about us integrating into the community and exchanging cultural ideas with others. That’s a huge part of it.”
This fall, three LU students are working voluntarily with students at nearby Plymouth High School. Two of the Lakeland students, LU-Japan transfers Maho Arakawa and Risa Yoshita, are interacting with a Plymouth student who plans to continue his studies in Japan. He’s been accepted into a Japanese university, and Arakawa and Yoshita conduct weekly Skype sessions with him.
“I’m very happy he is so interested in Japan,” said Yoshita, a hospitality management major. “We talk about language and also Japanese anime, which he is very interested in. He purchased a textbook, so we discuss that also.”
Yvonne Hesse, who attends the University of Kassel in Germany, is spending a semester at Lakeland University through an exchange program between the schools. The education major recently visited Plymouth, where she was a big hit.
“The students had many questions,” Hesse said with a smile. “They wanted to know what kind of music we listen to, so I brought German music with me.” Hesse also brought her culinary skills, and helped members of the Plymouth Culture Club prepare homemade German specialties spaetzle and currywurst.
Laura Koebel, a Spanish teacher at Plymouth High School, also serves as co-advisor of the school’s Culture Club.
“I am so grateful for this connection we have with Lakeland,” said Koebel. “Our students benefit greatly from the diverse international student population at LU. I encourage my students to attend International Food Night – some of our students may help out there this year – and International Night in the spring. Our students really enjoy these evenings, when world culture is shared in a way that people in our area might not normally experience.”
Dates for the GSA’s two signature events are set. The International Food Festival is Nov. 5, and International Night is April 6.
GSA is also sponsoring a “Country of the Month” educational initiative, which will include an informational poster about each country that will be displayed in Bossard.