Gannon University Students Support Local Multicultural Organizations

Multicultural_Day_At_LutherPosted: April 28, 2014

Reaching into communities and across cultures will be assignment for two groups of Gannon University students who will be heading out into Erie's ethnically and religiously diverse communities on Tuesday for service-learning projects that they hope will knit these communities together.

A group of students in a Juvenile Justice System course will be heading to five social service agencies to distribute more than 2,500 books for children of Erie's increasing population of refugees. The Gannon students will present the books to the agencies and read to students, who are in pre-kindergarten and younger.

While the Gannon students read to the children, Metz Culinary Management, which provides foodservice at Gannon, will cater a breakfast that incorporates elements of the native cuisines of the children. The recipients of the book donation are Catholic Charities Refugee Relief Services, the International Institute of Erie, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center of Bayfront NATO, the Multicultural Resource Center and St. Benedict Education Center.

Also on Tuesday morning, a group of international students in Gannon University's English as a Second Language (ESL) program will collaborate with Luther Memorial Academy on a project called "Sharing and Understanding Cultural Diversity; It's a Two-Way Street."

Fifty Gannon students from eight nations, China, India, Jordan, Mongolia, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Thailand, will present elements of their native cultures to the 150 Luther Memorial students aged 5 to 13.

Led by ESL program Associate Director Philomena Rad, the Gannon students will teach words in their native languages to the Luther Memorial students, will write their names in those languages and share the culture of their homelands through posters, games, clothes to try, and other activities. The goal is to promote understanding of world cultures. In turn, the Gannon students will learn about the lives of American children and their culture.

The program was funded through a mini-grant from the Erie-Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability (Erie-GAINS) initiative.

"Through cultural diversity and understanding we find global peace," Rad said of the program. "The more we understand the cultures of other people, the more peace we find."