New Take on Cultural Integration: Reflections from Fall 2018

New Take on Cultural Integration: Reflections from Fall 2018

Everyone appreciates the beauty of culture and the opportunity to learn about the enlightening diversities embedded in other societies.

The Global Course Connection  (GCC) program is an initiative of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance and one of its purposes is to connect liberal art colleges across the world. This is achieved by linking courses taught by faculty in separate member-colleges. The courses do not necessarily need to be from the same discipline, department or school, but the faculty is encouraged to identify which topics will provide a common ground for collaboration while still meeting the objectives set out in their respective syllabi. The connection provides students with different institutional, cultural, and national perspectives, which go a long way into enriching mindsets. What better way is there to learn about the culture of others than through the most spoken and written language across the globe?

For the students of Mrs. Emilienne Akpan’s Fall 2018 Writing 101 class, GCC was an exciting experience. We were informed about the Global Course Connection at the beginning of the semester, and admittedly there were different reactions to this announcement, especially as our partner college was Forman Christian College (FCC), Pakistan. With support from the faculty at FCC, we were all given partners and thus began our communications with them via email. As communication intensified among the students, when we received the mail informing us of our very first joint video session with our FCC peers, we were more than exhilarated.  There were other joint sessions throughout the semester. One of my classmates, Mubarak Muhammad Lawal, happily confirmed his feelings towards the partnership thus: “Monday became my favorite day and WRI 101 became my favorite course.” This was a shared feeling in our class.

During our Monday interactions, we discussed shared assignments, challenges with writing, the application of liberal arts in our institutions, and feedback from the instructors. We also shared our views about our respective writing centers, how non-native speakers of the English language are assisted and how academic integrity infractions are addressed. The instructor at FCC, Mrs. Nadia Iftikhar, was extremely helpful, pleasant, and accommodating. She constantly inquired about our experiences as first-year students and what we had gained from the WRI 101 class sessions. Apart from learning a lot academically, we also built our knowledge about Pakistani culture and got the opportunities to share features of our ethnic groups.

At the end of the semester, we were all heartbroken as we had to say our goodbye. It was an amazing experience of sharing, learning, and caring. Most of us decided to further our class-based partnerships to more personal friendships, and like course mates, I am proud to say that I have a friend from Pakistan. The Global Course Connection was an amazing experience for us all.

Reported by Greta Aimufua