With COVID-19 making campus events difficult, the Global Center at Missouri Western keeps finding creative ways to help students connect.
On Sept. 11, the Global Center hosted its annual Meet the World event. Due to COVID-19, Director of International Students Fumi Cheever did not want to put anyone’s health at risk by holding it in person.
“(Meet the World) is a great segue for new students to meet returning students and international students to meet the domestic,” Cheever said. “But with Covid, we had to get creative to make these things happen.”
The event normally involves two lines of chairs: one for international students, one for domestic. They have two minutes to talk, ask questions and get to know each other, and then the domestic students must move down a chair, like a speed meeting.
Obviously the event was too difficult to utilize social distancing, so Cheever decided to move it online.
“It’s our first time using Zoom, but I think it’s worth trying to make it work. We don’t want to stop offering events just because we can’t meet in person,” Cheever said.
Other students agree that cultural events are worth fighting for. Alumna Brooklyn Lance spoke about how she enjoyed Missouri Western’s cultural events and learning about what makes a culture unique.
“Learning about other cultures exposes students to new modes of thinking and behaviour. By doing so, we become more open-minded about our differences and more aware of our similarities,” Lance said.
While the virtual Meet the World event was not as well attended as previous in-person years, it held a sense of perseverance and unity.
This event was one of many for the Global Center. Once a month, they host international cooking classes. Typically, these take place in the commons on campus, but Cheever explained how they got creative with the lessons.
“We are trying a meal-in-a-box type of thing. The ingredients come in a bag that students can pick up, along with the recipe directions. That way, people can cook in their own kitchen on their own schedule,” Cheever said.
Creative solutions have allowed the Global Center to keep students connected and active, even if that means sacrificing in-person socializing. The international cooking classes have been a favorite of the international events for years, so students are relieved to keep attending them through new ways.
Along with the international cooking classes, the Global Center also hosts monthly gatherings called Tea and Talk, described by the Global Center’s website as “cross-culture discussion with real voices.” Tea and Talk aims to overcome cultural misconceptions and stereotypes by letting students communicate in a safe environment.
The next Tea and Talk takes place on Sept. 25 on Zoom, followed by the next cooking class on Oct. 16. Pick up the recipe and supplies at the Global Center in Eder 101.
“At the end of the day, learning about other cultures is really just about cultivating respect for people who are different from you,” Lance said.
Missouri Western students are thrilled the international events can find a way to continue, so everyone can keep making new connections and cross-culture friends.