Lehigh students often find themselves living in a “Lehigh bubble,” too caught up in school work, organizations and activities to venture off campus. The Global Union, however, works to pop this bubble by exposing Lehigh students to the world through Culture Nights.
On Oct. 9, Culture Night focused on Uganda. Haley Grace, ’15, reflected on her two trips to the country and discussed opportunities, grants and internships available to Lehigh students to gain international travel experience through the university.
“Not many students know about opportunities here at Lehigh,” she said. “You don’t have to be from a different country to go experience its culture and connect your major to a global scale.”
A diverse group of students attended the Culture Night, including many members of the Global Union and Grace’s academic adviser. In addition, a Ugandan student was present at the event and provided commentary about his experience to supplement Grace’s presentation. To add to the night’s experience, the Global Union also provided cultural food from a local restaurant.
The vice-president of the Global Union, Danielle Hanes, class 16’, introduced Grace.
“It is events like this that allow us to experience culture in this room, in reality,” Hanes said.
During her presentation, Grace recounted her trips to the village of Mubita, Uganda, and the sustainable development projects she worked on during her time there. In her first trip she installed a rain barrel to catch water and a water sanitation and hand-washing station. On her second trip she installed a faucet to the rain barrel, constructed a kitchen on site and taught dental care to the local school children. During her trips, she also focused on concerns of water accessibility, landslides, health and the spread of disease.
Grace worked closely with her advisor, Kelly Austin, who is a professor of sociology and research at Lehigh. With Austin’s help, she was funded for this trip through the Strohl Undergraduate Research Grant and the College of Arts and Sciences Research Grant.
Grace then announced the creation of the Lee Iacocca International Internship, which is a developing eight-week internship program in Uganda that will be available for four students. Grace said her main motivation for giving these presentations is to give back to Lehigh by influencing more people to take advantage of these opportunities.
Students in attendance enjoyed the chance to share in Grace’s experiences and broaden their cultural awareness.
“I grew up in a small town in Ohio, and I only experienced one international student,” said Matthew Cossel, ’17, secretary of the Global Union. “This is a way to bring ‘international’ to campus. All students should come learn; it’s not a big time commitment.”
Meredith Weiner, ’16, praised the Culture Night series, as well.
“This was such a great event,” she said. “It was really cool to learn about Lehigh’s international opportunities and eat some great food!”