The noise, activity, and crowds circulating amid booths brought the feel of a Middle Eastern bazaar to the 2014 Global Expo. However, rather than exchanging goods for currency, the Arcadia students standing behind each table were sharing Preview experiences and group projects with passersby on Friday, April 4.
Aneesah Gibbons-Thomas ’17, Olayinka Adesehinwa ’17, and Shaquanda Mattox ’17 exhibited symbols common in Korean art and offered visitors an assortment of snack foods they had discovered abroad as a part of the Preview course “Visual Awareness: Art and Culture of South Korea.” These students returned from their journey with more than snacks and an appreciation for Korean artworks, landscapes, and architecture: each plans to return to the country to study or live in Seoul.
“Going made me want to study abroad there,” said Mattox, a graphic design major, who admired the cleanliness and beauty of the city and its landmarks. “I’ve already got it set in place with the Office of International Affairs.”
At Global Expo, students in about 50 groups of three to nine presented projects demonstrating what they had learned, seen, heard, and tasted, creating a continuous rumble of talking, laughter, and various kinds of music, all in an effort to represent the 18 different countries each had experienced during Preview, March 7-16.
Preview 2014 not only impacted students but also the faculty and staff who accompanied them. Dr. Bruce Campbell, assistant professor and director of educational leadership, co-taught the course “Get Your Groove On: Exploring the Urban Music Scene in London and Philadelphia” with Dr. Clare Papay, assistant professor and director of special education. The two were excited because even though they both work in the School of Education, they would never have the occasion to work or teach together without Preview. They also get to work with students they would not meet otherwise.
“We have a great relationship with our current group and I have students coming up to me that I went to London with last year and even two years ago,” Papay said. “Without doing Preview I wouldn’t know those students because I would only teach the students in my department. It’s really cool that you get to know students across the University, right from their first year here.”
Students in their group said that Papay, a native of the U.K., provided them with expert guidance on all things London and that Campbell impressed with his musical knowledge, talent, and influence.
“Dr. Campbell is a famous DJ, alter ego DJ Junior,” said Gabby Marinaccio ’17. “We got to see him perform…and we got to meet a ton of people in the music scenes in Philly and in London we never would have met without his connections.”
Many students have been inspired to continue learning about the cultures introduced to them.
“I’m thinking about taking a Japanese class next year,” said biology major Joey Abrams ’17. “But I think one of the biggest things that influenced me was the food, and that is what our project is on.”
In Tokyo, Abrams’ group compared and contrasted American and Japanese food cultures. Yasmine Ktaishat ’17 noticed the latest trend in Japanese cuisine: whole kernel corn, which she observed was offered in everything from vending machines to breakfast food. John Borrelli ’17 remarked on how Japanese society, often cited as perfectionist, is reflected in the care and effort taken to make each dish look like a work of art. Fellow group member Isabela Secanechia ’17 described the impact of another aspect of Japanese food culture: “the idea of respecting the food and being completely mindful of it and not wasting it. You don’t leave one grain of rice: it took work to get that there, respect it, be thankful for it, so you eat everything on your plate.”
For transfer student Kathlene Williams ’15 and first-year student Tiara Rei ’17, the lesson of being less wasteful permeated every moment of Preview in Costa Rica. They learned what is required daily to support conservation and sustainability through interactions with farmers and residents participating in composting, recycling, repurposing, and using the least amount of energy possible. Rei, who identifies as Latina and is fluent in Spanish, said the week she spent in Costa Rica also enriched her culturally and socially.
“It was very meaningful for me because I got to communicate with locals in different ways, and it was very heartwarming,” said Rei. “And, I made new friends who I also stay in contact with right now.”
Northwest of Costa Rica, more than 900 miles across the Caribbean Sea lies Cuba, where first-year Arcadia students enrolled in the Preview course “Cuba: Myths and Realities” spent a week examining how Cubans view their country’s strained dealings with the U.S.
Zofia Protasiuk ’17 said that the experience dissolved her preconceptions about what going to Cuba would be like.
“It was safe, it was beautiful, it was everything you wouldn’t expect because of what we’re taught,” Protasiuk said.
After attending courses at the University of Havana, Ashley Weimar ’17 realized for the first time the role perspective can play in shaping and distorting history.
“One class we took was teaching on Cuban and U.S. relations, and it was totally different from what we had been taught,” said Weimar. “It was an incredibly life changing experience. It really was.”
Photos by Kara Wright ’14 | Video by Deanna Haasz ’15