Life in the House

Thursday Night Dinners

The Thursday Night Dinners at the Global Citizenship House are opportunities for members of the house to engage in meaningful and intelligent conversation with a community leader. A simple meal is served after which there is a brief introduction by either the TND chair or the president of the house of the goals of the house and the invited speaker. The speaker then takes over and gives an informal presentation on his/her experiences and insight on the topic of choice. These topics then allow the house members to ask the guest questions and comment on his/her experiences.

The overriding theme that connects all the TNDs is the idea of “global action through local initiative”. In order to be a responsible global citizen, an individual must first understand and form an opinion on important issues relating to their local community. With TNDs, the GC house hopes to accomplish this goal through informed discussions.

[Activities of Fall 2009-Spring 2010: upcoming!]

Spring 2007

For the second series of our TNDs, we had a total of three guests, each with a unique and enlightening perspective to offer to the students of the GC House. Our first guest was rather special, as we invited the first Iraqi student to attend Lehigh, Louis Yako, over to our house for dinner and discussion. A kind and passionate young man, Yako introduced himself and explained who he was, and what he did before coming to Lehigh. Before coming to Lehigh, Yako worked for the American military as a translator. There, he learned a great deal about the truth of things – how the Iraqis felt about their country, war-torn and asunder, what the Americans really knew about the Iraqi people, and what it meant to be a link between two people of truly different worlds. He told us how sad he was to see his home country in such shambles, and hoped very much that someday it would return to its former glory and pride.

Our second guest was a former Broughal Middle School guidance counselor, Vivian Robledo. Ms. Robledo is presently the principal of Career Academy High School. We had a very informative discussion with her, touching on her opinion on what was planned for Broughal, how things were when she served there as guidance counselor, and the nature of her new job at the Career Academy. She made it clear that there was plenty of work to be done, both at Broughal and at Career Academy, and she left us with a message to get involved in any way we could, stressing that any little bit of outside effort would not be a waste.

Our final guest for the Spring 2007 series of the Thursday Night Dinners was Javier Toro, the Community Partnership Facilitator of the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center. A very warm Mr. Toro spoke about his extensive experience working with the local community through the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center. He spoke of the Center's various programs, which includes family budgeting, employment counseling, rental assistance loans, referral services, and an after-school homework club. The goal of the Center, he explained, was to provide residents with services to lead them to a life of self-sufficiency, in all the most essential aspects. Mr. Toro also told members of the House that the most important way to help make a difference was to take the time to get involved, in any way possible.

Fall 2006

Our first guest for the semester was Bruce Haines. An alumnus of Lehigh University, Haines lives in the Bethlehem area and works as a hotel manager. He was invited to our house to voice his opinion on the new casinos to be built in place of the old steel mill in Bethlehem. Haines warmly and with a great deal of candor expressed his distress at the idea of building a casino in Bethlehem. He believed this sort of business would bring in a "bad crowd," so-to-speak, and significantly change the social environment of Bethlehem. Citing areas that surround big casinos, such as Atlantic City, he strongly went against the mayor's position, and argued that the building of the casino would do more harm than good for the city of Bethlehem.

Our second guest was Alan Jennings, a visible leader in the Community Action Committee for the Lehigh Valley (CACLV). Jennings’ his organization fights for the justice of the people of Bethlehem. He explained how corruption and greed had taken a hard toll on the average Bethlehem citizen. When asked for his opinion on the casinos, Alan had nothing but praise for what in his belief would be a tremendous boost for the city’s economy. Jennings stressed that it would also generate a huge cash flow for the community.

Our last guest for the semester was Sis-Obed Cordero, the executive director of the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of the Lehigh Valley Inc. Cordero also took a strong stance against the casinos coming into Bethlehem. His view, however, added a new perspective to the matter. He saw the casinos as gentrification issue for the Latino community of Bethlehem. He too believed that the casinos would dramatically change the social environment of Bethlehem, and that the jobs created would not compensate for the potential damage the casino might do.