An expedition to walk with lions in Zambia, the five fundamental elements of Vietnamese cuisine, the complexity of the Urdu language written from right to left and the vast expanse of “Incredible India”; these exciting insights into different cultures were presented by UMass Dartmouth Navitas Global Student Success Program (GSSP) students and UMass Dartmouth international students as part of the first ever International Student Speaker’s Bureau series at UMass Dartmouth.
The UMass Dartmouth Navitas GSSP team, in collaboration with the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement, International Student Organization, and International Student & Scholar Center, coordinated the opportunity for Navitas GSSP students and UMass Dartmouth international students to present on their unique cultures to a local middle school close to campus. Our Sisters’ School (OSS) is an all-girls school which has run for the past 10 years entirely off donations and has served low- income families in the Greater New Bedford area, in which UMass Dartmouth is situated.
Students from Zambia, Vietnam, India and Pakistan shared their culture and opened the floor to questions from students eager to learn more about their differences. One student exclaimed that she would be asking her mother to visit Vietnam for her birthday; a seventh grade student of Lebanese descent spoke Arabic with a presenter from Pakistan.
The benefits of this initiative extended to the student speakers as well.
“Representing Pakistan at Our Sisters’ School was an amazing experience” remarked Osama “Sam” Maqsood, a UMass Dartmouth Navitas GSSP alumnus and current senior at UMass Dartmouth. “I was thrilled by the dedication and learning capabilities of the students. The best part was they picked up the Urdu words so quickly. I am glad that I was given the opportunity to present.”
Tracy Kasale of Zambia, an Undergraduate UMass Dartmouth GSSP alumna who is currently working towards her MBA, shared similar sentiments about her time presenting in the International Student Speaker’s Bureau.
“One major thing I learned from this experience is that young minds are capable of so much more than we may think. The students were respectful and engaging. They were eager to learn about other cultures and were open to a world beyond their own. This is how the world was meant to be.”
The International Student Speaker’s Bureau is one piece of a larger globalization effort led by the UMass Darmouth Navitas GSSP team, which will expand this spring to include “Buddies Beyond Borders,” a domestic/ international student partnership program within the university residence halls; and a second speaker’s bureau series taking place at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater New Bedford. If you find yourself in the Dartmouth/ New Bedford area soon, don’t be surprised if you hear of local students practicing Urdu, trying new cuisine, or simply engaging with a world that’s become a bit bigger, and a bit more exciting, than it was before.
Interested in following in these students’ footsteps? Visit our UMass Dartmouth Navitas GSSP page and start your application process today!