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Getting a jump start: Freshmen explore sights, sounds and tastes of Lehigh and beyond
For most college freshmen, the first few months of school is a whirlwind of activity filled with new places and new faces, new sights, new sounds and new tastes.
For a small group students in the class of 2014, the first few days of their Lehigh careers consisted of a flurry of activity that can typically take years to accomplish -- ranging from a tour of the United Nations’ building in New York City to a meal in a Dim Sum restaurant in New York’s Chinatown.
The 12 freshmen, including two international students, were enrolled in the pilot offering of a new preLUsion seminar, called GlobaLehigh, which this August joined the ranks of preLUsion programs run by the Office of the First-Year Experience. These preLUsion programs give incoming freshman a chance to move in early, meet peers with common interests, and “jump start” their college experience.
GlobaLehigh, a collaborative effort of several organizations, including the Global Union and Office of International Programs, is designed to immerse students in “culture, cuisine, and all things global,” according to the preLUsion program Web site.
And, according to Ethan Nadler, ’14, one of this year’s participants, it was also “tons of fun.”
That fun included a busy and exciting three-day seminar focused around globalization, which included talks from Lehigh professors, the U.N. tour, and discussions with young Lehigh alumni working in international fields in New York City, which Ann Girdano, ’12, called the “highlight of the trip.” This allowed the students to see and hear firsthand where their involvement in global clubs and organizations on campus could lead them, explains Girdano, who is president of the Global Union, and one of three GlobaLehigh student ambassadors.
Matt Kilbride, a graduate assistant to the Global Union, and one of the program’s coordinators says: “We really wanted to give students interested in global issues a unique opportunity to get an early start, so they can maximize their involvement during their time at Lehigh.”
Other activities included a globalization talk from Dick Brandt, director of the Iacocca Institute, small discussion groups, and Skype sessions with Lehigh graduates who are currently living abroad.
Bill Hunter, program co-director and director of the Global Union and Lehigh’s partnership program with the U.N. recalls: “Our alums were very eager to participate in the program as well. We had one alum, now serving in the Peace Corps in South Africa, travel 30 miles from her rural village to access a computer in the nearest town to be part of a session.”
The group also ate meals at ethnic restaurants, which included several restaurants in South Bethlehem and the Dim Sum restaurant in Chinatown.
“We had no idea the Dim Sum place was a wedding hall, until one of the students on the trip pointed out the artwork that indicated which side of the room was for the bride’s family and which for the groom’s,” says Nadler, explaining how the participants used their own cultural backgrounds and experiences to enhance the trip.
“We started off with the question ‘what is globalization?’ And everyone went around the room and gave their ideas,” says Nadler.
Hunter says there is definitely a call to run the GlobaLehigh program again next year.
“Most students get involved in global activities around campus during the junior or senior years. We really wanted to find students who are interested in these subjects and reverse the paradigm, engaging them from day one,” Hunter says.