International-U.S. Student Roommate Dinner

During WesWOW (Wesleyan Week of Welcome), the Office of International Student Affairs and the Fries Center for Global Studies collaborated to put together a formal dinner for international students and their domestic U.S. roommates in order to share a meal and explore cross-cultural understanding. The event took place on Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 from 5 – 7 p.m. in Beckham Hall.

Overall, 120 students attended the event, of whom 60 % were International students and 40% U.S. domestic students. Of those who attended, approximately 80% of students came with their roommates. The event was facilitated by Kia Lor (Assistant Director of Language and Intercultural Learning) and supported by Alice Hadler (Senior Associate Director of the Fries Center for Global Studies), Chia-Ying Pan (Director of International Student Services), and Janice Watson (Assistant Director of International Student Services).

The purpose of the International-U.S Roommate Dinner was to introduce the two populations to each other in an intentional, effective, and meaningful way. We see the relationship between international students and their U.S. domestic roommates as a two-way street offering a particularly promising opportunity to develop authentic relationships that may serve as a bridge towards cultural self-awareness, empathy, and openness – and what better way to start than with these pairs who are already living together!

We used the D.I.E. method (Describe, Interpret, Evaluate) to examine four different case studies that dealt with intercultural communication and (mis)understanding. In groups of 8-10 per table, students described the situation using only the facts that they knew about the situation, then interpreted the assumptions from both sides, and finally evaluated how each roommate should adjust their behavior in order for the best outcome for the both of them.

Dinner was catered by Café 56. The menu consisted of assorted tapas of the world: Yakitori chicken skewers, Spanish meatballs, Korean BBQ baby back ribs, spanakopitas (spinach triangles), vegetable skewers, seven-layers dip and assorted chips, green salad, fruit display, fudge brownies, and gluten-free coconut macaroons.