President Rao, VCU Globe Students Meet for "Fireside Chat"
|By: V. Renee Russell
Global Education Office
Richmond, Va. (Dec. 6, 2013)— More than 30 VCU Globe students gathered in the fireside lounge of the new West Grace North Residence Hall with VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. last Wednesday night to discuss topics ranging from increasing engagement with international students on campus to ensuring safe working conditions in factories around the world.
Much of the conversation focused on the ways this inaugural group of students can contribute to shaping the program for future cohorts. Rao suggested that as students identify priorities and set goals, the program will become one that “truly represents is a vision to expand diversity beyond domestic concepts to embrace a more international sense of diversity.”
According to program director Jill Blondin, VCU Globe students have many opportunities to mentor international students. “Each semester, our students complete at least 10 hours of globally-engaged service, which include volunteering as conversation partners, orienting international students to the VCU Library, and designing and leading interactive workshops that address American culture,” she said.
Criminal justice major Jessica Alonso described a recent workshop held in November just before the Thanksgiving holiday. “We were able to explain how some American holidays have evolved, which provided insight into why U.S. holidays are the way they are,” she said. Earlier this semester, Globe students organized a workshop designed to help international students to make greater social connections while in the U.S.
The group also discussed specific global issues that students in the program have begun to rally behind. Mass communications and psychology major Cydni Gordon explained that, in November, students met two workers from Alta Gracia, a living-wage factory in the Dominican Republic. Since the encounter, the group has begun to campaign for VCU to become affiliated with the Worker’s Rights Consortium, an organization that monitors working conditions in factories around the world. Gordon explained that seven universities in the A-10 conference are currently affiliated with the organization. Globe students are currently working with VCU Business Services to pursue this affiliation, and Rao said he appreciated being informed about the initiative.
In addition to ideas specific to Globe, Rao shared with students the university’s future plans to expand common spaces around campus and plans for the next living-learning program which will focus on leadership.
The VCU Globe program is now accepting applications for the 2014 academic year. First-year students are eligible to apply.
Students discussed the different aspects of VCU Globe with President Rao at Wednesday’s fireside chat.
Jessica Alonso, a criminal justice major, shared how Globe students have been working with international students at VCU.
Cydni Gordon, a mass communications and psychology major, shared students’ interest in living wage and safe working conditions in factories around the world.
VCU Globe students with President Rao.