Creating a Community of Cultures

On the evening of Nov. 15, 2018, Loyola Marymount University community members gathered on Alumni Mall with souvenir passports in hand as they participated in the Office of International Students and Scholar’s (OISS) annual Global Citizen Day, held in partnership with ASLMU, Study Abroad and the Center for Service and Action. This event invited the LMU community to learn about international opportunities for study and service as well as engage with diverse cultural groups on campus, promoting interculturality and global consciousness among members and developing an understanding of what it means to Become a Global Citizen.

The plaza was full of life, color and music as booths and tables lined the square. As attendees collected “stamps” from each unique “destination” around the globe, they were introduced to the diverse collection of globally-oriented organizations and programs that all have found a home in the LMU community. Among them were international students, like Abbey Grosse ‘21, a communications and public relations major from Perth, Australia, who understands her engagement with a place so far from her home country as a responsibility in creating a broader worldview.

Global Citizen Day Passport

“Being far from home is a struggle for everyone, whether its two hours or two days away,” said Grosse. “”We tend to only focus on our own experiences. But when we’re open to experiencing different cultures, we can start to understand how others see the world, and understand our own communities better.”

However, she says her time studying at LMU has been enriched by exciting challenges and experiences, such as being a part of the women’s water polo team and living with other international students at the International House, which is  off-campus housing managed by OISS. “These past few years have opened my eyes to the importance of intentional communication about our differences.

To me, that’s what being a global citizen looks like, really being open to experiencing different cultures and seeing our similarities rather than what separates us.”

Other stations at the event featured representatives from community-based study abroad opportunities, like Pamela Underwood, who coordinates the Casa de la Mateada program in Cordoba, Argentina. According to Underwood, the Casa program sets itself apart from other study abroad experiences, saying “it works to help students to not only appreciate culture abroad but also integrate themselves and accompany an array of underserved or underrepresented communities of Cordoba.” Jared Gencarella ‘19, a Marketing major and an alumnus of the program, notes how the experience transformed the way he thinks of the world today.

“You can research all you want, or see a lot of sights, but that doesn’t give you the full understanding of a place. It’s about the people, taking the time to see and interact with them and most importantly listen to them. I think that’s our goal as a Jesuit university, to be both with and for other people no matter where they are.”

While attendees made their way around the Mall, students performed on the main stage in traditional attire, song and dance from other parts of the world. Freshman students Aye Myat Theingi and Aditi Vori shared their Indian heritage through a compilation of Indian dances and songs that ranged from classic to contemporary, honoring the recent holiday of Diwali.

Diwali Dance Performance By Students

“These dances are so graceful and elegant. It feels great to be able to honor them by sharing them, especially in a world where there is so much ignorance,” said Vora. “That’s when stereotypes are broken when people can change their understanding of that reality and making them more multi-dimensional instead of just one image.” For these two, along with others who participated in the evening’s festivities, LMU EXP’s pillar for students to Become a Global Citizen is embodied. With events like Global Citizen Day, lions like these invite the larger LMU community to expand their worldview, share their own story and celebrate the things that bind them.

According to Theingi, “Being a global citizen isn’t just having open eyes and ears.

It means seeking these experiences out, with the goal of knowing about it and trying to understand it. It takes empathy, kindness and courage.”

The Office for International Students and Scholars is proud to serve the more than 1000 students and scholars who come to LMU from around the globe. OISS collaborates across campus to support LMU’s internationalization initiatives and highlight our diverse population of students.

By Carson Miller