World Community looks to provide global welcome

A new group is working to make sure the college’s international community feels more at home.

Called the World Community, the informal group gives international faculty, staff and students—and anyone with an interest in other countries—opportunities to interact and feel welcome, said Gurdeep Skolnik, assistant director of continuing education at SUNY Oswego.

“Over the years that I have been here, I have noticed that there is a sizable number of international faculty and staff as well as colleagues who have an international interest,” said Skolnik, who spearheads the group.

“I’ve noticed people from one country may not even be aware that there is another person from their country on campus or in the community,” she added. “I thought it may be a good idea to provide an opportunity for people to meet.”

Skolnik said she contacted other members of the campus and community with the goal of forming “an inclusive group that could be a resource to each other, to new faculty and staff, and to international students.” Tania Ramalho of the curriculum and instruction department suggested the World Community moniker, which members thought fit their global goal, Skolnik noted.

The initial planning of about a dozen people from across the campus and around the world culminated with an ethnic potluck dinner in spring 2006. Another such dinner took place last fall, with an aim of incorporating new faculty into the loop.

“Everyone who attended it enjoyed interacting with each other in a relaxed manner while enjoying some delicious home-cooked food,” Skolnik said.

The World Community feeds a growing need, as campus job searches have seen more and more international candidates in an increasingly globalized world, said Marta Santiago, the college’s human resources manager and affirmative-action officer. The result is an increasingly diverse roster of faculty and staff.

“I think it’s a great concept because we’re trying to develop students who understand a global environment and could end up working in a multicultural environment,” Santiago said. “This group is one more opportunity for people to have exposure to those whose cultures and backgrounds are different from their own.”

The group is planning another potluck social before the end of the spring semester. Organizers are open to additional ideas and new members, including those not from overseas. For instance, people who plan to travel abroad may find the group a good place to talk with those with knowledge of their potential destination.

The network could have additional benefits, such as offering an international student feeling homesick an opportunity to visit with a World Community member “who is either from the same country as the student or who is culturally attuned to the student,” Skolnik explained.

“It’s part of what we’re all trying to create, which is a campus climate that’s inviting,” Santiago said.

For more information about the World Community, contact Skolnik at 312-2270 or

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(Posted: Mar 21, 2007)