Part of a student’s education at Wake Forest is exposure to new ideas and experiences. As parents, you can help reinforce the importance of ‘stretch’ experiences that might take your student out of his or her comfort zone and help them explore and discover something new. There are some great events happening this week that might broaden their cultural awareness.
Encourage your first year students to attend at least one of these. And encourage them not to just go and listen – but talk to some of the other people there, presenters as well as participants, ask questions about the issues and become more informed about things that are new to you. Here are some of the cultural awareness events of the coming week:
On Tuesday, February 12th at 5:00 pm in the Byrum Welcome Center, Helena Maria Viramontes of Cornell University will be speaking to the theme of the 50th year of integration at Wake Forest University. Her lecture is titled, “In the Openness of Others: Sensual Practices, Cultural Specificity, and a Movement Towards Tolerance.”
On Wednesday, February 13th at 7 pm in ZSR Auditorium 404, students can come out and hear a story of commitment to values and courage. Dr. Bob Zellner was born and raised in south Alabama to a Ku Klux Klan family but spent years bringing Civil Rights to the forefront. He will speak about his memoir, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek”.
On Thursday, February 14th at 4 pm in Room 404 ZSR Auditorium, Marc Spindelman, Professor of Law at the Ohio State University, will speak about Amendment One and his work in Ohio on repealing their similar marriage amendment and passing an Equal Rights Amendment.
On Friday, February 15th, from 5:45-8:00 pm in 17 Reynolda Hall, students can join Hillel and GSSA for a home-cooked Shabbat dinner.
Finally, on Saturday, February 16th from 1-5 pm on the Reynolda Patio, students are invited to celebrate the Chinese New Year Festival of 2013 at Wake Forest University. We will have authentic cuisine, dances, games, and much more.
Those are just a sampling of some of the events of the week. A full list is available on the University Calendar. Speaking in more general terms, we hope you’ll encourage your students to sample a variety of cultural activities this semester. Here are some suggestions:
- The departments of Art, Music, and Theatre and Dance host events and activities in addition to providing world-class instruction in the fine and performing arts.
- Most college students love to venture off campus for the occasional meal. And while Winston-Salem can’t boast the same kind of culinary diversity as a large city, there are still opportunities to sample foods from many different cultures. Never tried Irish food? Go to Finnegans Wake and try a Scotch Egg. How about sampling some soul food at Sweet Potatoes? Or Indian cuisine at Nawab? Smitty’s Notes is a local web site with links to restaurants by type or your student can check out Urbanspoon (or use the Urbanspoon app for mobile phones).
- February is Black History Month, and part of Wake Forest’s history is the participation of college students in lunch counter sit ins in downtown Winston-Salem to protest segregation. This month, students can explore and learn about this part of history by visiting the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, NC.
- Explore another part of Wake Forest’s history and make a road trip to the Wake Forest Birthplace Museum in the town of Wake Forest, NC (near Raleigh). The newly-built museum addition hosts artifacts from Wake Forest’s past.
- Our own Museum of Anthropology on campus has a vast array of exhibits from other cultures.
And let’s not forget, there are students on campus whose backgrounds, religions, nationalities, and experiences are different from your student’s. Does your student know an international student? If not, talk to one of them who live on their hall or are in one of their classes and try to get to know them better. Does your student have questions about what it is like to live in another country/be a different religion or race/identify with the LGBTQ community? Have an authentic, civil and open dialogue with another person. Often when we get to know others who are different than we are, we discover the richness of their culture AND we find that we have a lot more in common than we do differences.
Your students will be entering a workforce where their colleagues, bosses, and direct reports might come from many different backgrounds and perspectives. Our students will be better prepared to work and lead in those teams if they develop their intercultural competence now, in the safe environment of college. This can be a major competitive advantage in the hiring process. So encourage your students to explore this month and reflect on those new experiences!