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DU Professor and students cross borders for multicultural experience

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When students “cross the border,” for a weekend away, what usually comes to mind is spring break and margaritas on the beach – not a weekend in Windsor, Canada. But for those Dominican students who went on Campus Climate’s first international trip this semester, they got a mini-vacation out of the country, without the price tag of a week in Cancun.

On Friday, Nov. 11, Dr. Nkuzi Nnam, philosophy professor and director of Black World Studies, along with 13 undergraduate students, started a weekend-long trip from River Forest, Ill. to Detroit, Mich. ultimately ending up in Windsor, Canada. They came back to River Forest, Ill. Nov. 13.

The trip, planned by Dominican’s Campus Climate Committee, was meant to help students get a multicultural experience away from home without the hassles and expenses of a long-term study abroad trip. According to Nnam, Campus Climate was started in 1980 as a way to increase cultural and racial harmony on the Dominican campus. The group’s goal is to increase awareness of intercultural relations, and Nnam saw this trip as a chance to do just that.

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Nnam drove with the students to Detroit, Mich., first to learn about the automobile industry and the economic difficulties the city has faced in the past few years. The group visited Plymouth City Chamber of Commerce, where Mike Brace and two of his workers lectured them on the economy of Plymouth City and Detroit in general. The lecture was followed by a visit to Henry Ford Estate.

Shannon Meyer, a senior at Dominican, was one of the student leaders on the trip. Meyer said that crossing the U.S. – Canada border was an interesting experience in itself.

“I feel the trip enhanced my overall knowledge of Canada and Detroit and we met different people with different views. We were learning about the economy even crossing the border back home and dealing with the border patrol,” Meyer said.

While in Windsor, important stops included Mackenzie Hall and the Windsor Community Cultural Centre, where the group analyzed a comparative study of Canada and the United States, with particular reference to Detroit and Windsor, and immersed themselves in Canadian culture.

Nnam said that the trip, which ended Nov. 13, was a way for students to immerse themselves in another culture for a short time, while comparing it to the culture in the United States. Nnam said that the students presented their findings to the school a week after the trip.

Meyer said that the trip was educational but also a way to bond with other students in an entirely new way.

“I feel that you learn a lot about your fellow peers at school and it is a great way to connect with them. You start the trip by not knowing each other but by the end of it, you have made friends from all different cultures, which is the best part,” Meyer said.

Katherine Kulpa, Editor-in-chief

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