Fall 2017 marked the official beginning of East Carolina University’s Global Living-Learning Community, consisting of a tight-knit group of seven first-year students from diverse backgrounds who live in the same residence hall on campus. The students’ interests range from anthropology, biology and health care to Hispanic studies and Japanese culture.
The Global LLC is a joint effort between the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, and ECU’s Division of Campus Living. Global LLC students take classes and workshops together, as well as participate in activities and events that highlight diverse cultural practices, worldviews and linguistic diversity.
Global Living-Learning Community students Genesis Henderson, Maia Slonaker and Ella Dogbe-Tsogbe appear here with Dr. Nicolas Médevielle (left), teaching assistant professor of French, who led a crêpe-making event on campus Feb. 1, celebrating the French holiday, la Chandeleur. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Jennifer M. Valko and Dr. Larkin Murphy)
“Students live in an environment that supports academic achievement and are exposed to cultures and worldviews that will enhance their personal and professional development,” said Dr. Jennifer M. Valko, associate professor of Spanish and director of the Global LLC.
“One of the departmental goals for the Global LLC is to organize workshops, speakers and programs that will permit our majors and minors to mingle with Global LLC students,” Valko said. “The idea is to enhance their relationship within the department, encourage friendships between students who share interests and experiences and continue to help Global LLC students make a smooth transition into the university life at ECU.”
Emmanuella “Ella” Dogbe-Tsogbe, a Global LLC student whose family is from Togo, West Africa, said the Global LLC offers many important benefits.
“The Global LLC is a community for students to be close together,” said Dogbe-Tsogbe.
Students in the Global LLC are not necessarily international students. Many are from the United States and are interested in the world around them, while some students’ families, like Dogbe-Tsogbe’s, are from different parts of the world. Other students’ families are from Korea and Costa Rica.
“We get to interact with each other and share our cultures,” said Dogbe-Tsogbe.
On Feb. 1, the group had the opportunity to learn a bit about the French culture at an event that included a discussion about the history and significance of the French festival, la Chandeleur, with active crêpe-making stations. Hosted by the French studies program in Harriot College’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, the event was one of several this spring that are open to all majors at ECU.
“I liked that we were all interacting with each other, not just people from the Global LLC, but also from French classes and other LLCs,” said Dogbe-Tsogbe. “And it was great to make crêpes.”
Dr. Nicholas Médevielle (left) discusses the significance and history of the French holiday, la Chandeleur, with a group of students before assisting them at a crêpe-making station.
Dr. Nicolas Médevielle, teaching assistant professor of French, who led the event, said, “One of the best ways to interact with students and introduce them to the culture is to prepare food for and with them, and crêpes is a simple enough dish for students to try.”
Médevielle is from the northwestern region of France known as Bretagne or Brittany, where crêpes are embraced as the regional dish.
“I love to show students how they are made, but also to give students some information about the background of this festival,” he said. “As language teachers, we not only want to teach the language but also present some aspects of the cultures and history of the countries associated with these languages.”
According to Médevielle, in contemporary France, la Chandeleur (the festival of candles) is largely seen as a secular festival – an occasion to make and eat crêpes in the middle of the winter, which happens around the time of Carnival and “Mardi Gras” (aka Fat Tuesday).
In reality, la Chandeleur is a very old tradition. It has been celebrated as a Catholic feast for more than 1,500 years, replacing two previously established pagan festivals. La Chandeleur takes place 40 days after Christmas, on Feb. 2, and is a celebration of the presentation of Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem.
Global Living-Learning Community students Genesis Henderson and Maia Slonaker make their own crêpes at the interactive academic and cultural event.
At the beginning of the event, students learned the significance of the holiday. Then, they were able to view crêpes recipes and instructions in French and English and could sample crêpes made by faculty at two crêpe stations, or work at an interactive station where students were taught how to make their own crêpes.
Global LLC students also participate in a number of academic events that assist them with their transition into university life.
During their first semester at ECU, students in the Global LLC took the “Introduction to Global Studies” course together, taught by Médevielle and assistant professor of Russian studies Dr. Justin Wilmes. They participated in academic workshops on time management, learning styles, study skills and test-taking strategies; attended a business etiquette and networking dinner with an international focus; and engaged in a Skype discussion on the subject of happiness with university students at the Faculdade Max Planck in Indaiatuba, Brazil.
The students are exposed to a variety of support services around campus, including Joyner Library, the Pirate Academic Success Center, Office of Global Affairs, Global Academic Initiatives and Career Services. They interact with faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students from various academic units across ECU.
Michelle Giron Morales, a student in the Global LLC whose family is from Cali, Colombia, said the Global LLC has impacted her the most through the etiquette dinner, Pirate Academic Success Center workshops and the Skype conversation with students in Brazil.
“You can learn anything, from anyone, anywhere,” said Giron Morales.
She also said it is important that the Global LLC continue to emphasize cultural awareness.
“Employers are looking for someone who is willing to interact with people who are different than them,” Giron Morales said. “You learn a little bit more about yourself, too.”
This semester, the Global LLC will offer students the ability to participate in Salsa, Bachata and Merengue dance lessons at Crave Restaurant on Feb. 16, and attend a presentation about Jewish culture and Passover with a traditional Seder Dinner on April 7. A community service event also is in the planning process. For more information, visit blog.ecu.edu/sites/globalliving-learningcommunity/.
-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications