The Foreign Language Department and Pearson Residential College (PRC) have teamed up to create La Casa Internationale. which will be a living community focused on bringing together students from different backgrounds. The program aims to provide students an international study experience that they would have gained studying abroad while living at UM.
The multicultural living community will be located on the first floor of Pearson, and will be an expansion of a current program called La Casa Cultural, which focused solely on the Latin cultures. The idea for the living community was proposed in 2000 by former Associate Master of PRC Professor Rebecca Biron, a faulty member in the department of foreign languages and literatures.
Since then, the program and the plans for an expansion, which would incorporate other cultures, have been well received by students.
“This will be the first living and learning program where the students actually only speak these languages,” said Lillian Manzor, associate master of PRC.
Students interested in the program must have taken one year of Spanish, Portuguese, French or the equivalent.
“The students are required to speak the language as much as possible and participate in the activities,” Manzor said.
Manzor feels that this community, also described as “The World Block,” will make speaking and practicing a language much easier.
Antionette Ragland, sophomore, who was appointed RA of the international floor, feels that this will be a great opportunity meet new people and network.
“This program will promote the fact that communication is the key and there won’t be as big of a barrier,” Ragland said.
She looks forward to coming up with exciting activities with her fellow floor-mates next year.
According to Manzor, some of the proposed program ideas are an international movie series, creating programs in conjunction with the art school and hosting international dinners.
Students seem to be supportive of the program.
“I think it would be really cool, because it will allow students to learn and participate in other culture,” Monica Castro, freshman, said.
Students also feel that this program will add to the diversity of the Pearson community.
“It will help diversify Pearson because it will give students who speak those languages an opportunity to speak their native language,” Kellie Jackson, junior, said.
Students can choose to apply for La Casa Internationale by choosing the option when they fill out their application for housing next year.
The department of residence halls will act as a filter for the program by providing a list of students who indicated interest in the program on their housing application to the department of foreign languages. Foreign Languages will then proceed with the multicultural living community application process.
Although Residence Halls is not an active participant, the department is excited to see the outcome of this expanded program, Jon Baldessari, associate director of Residence Halls, said.
When asked if more programs such as this will be expanded to other residence colleges, Baldessari said that they are open to the idea, but it is tough to predict for now.
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