Bridging Cultural Divides

Students+in+the+Bridging+Cultural+Divides+seminar+went+to+Harlem+to+go+to+the+Senegalese+Association+in+America.

Abdoulaye Ngom

Students in the “Bridging Cultural Divides” seminar went to Harlem to go to the Senegalese Association in America.

Gisele Cestaro, News Lead Editor

  The WinterMission course, “Bridging Cultural Divides,” involved students of different cultures sharing stories as well as finding similarities and differences to bond over. Led by faculty members Hank Kim and Abdoulaye Ngom, the class traveled to the town of Dobbs Ferry to visit the Cabrini Immigrant Center to talk to immigrants who have been in New York since the 1990s. They also went to Harlem to see a presentation by members of the Senegalese Association in America, and then to lunch at a nearby French-Senegalese restaurant. 

The first day involved getting to know one another. One activity involved students writing their names on the board and explaining the name’s meaning or its language of origin. It was a very diverse group of students, which allowed for different ways of writing, and other languages. The class was an enriching experience since students learned outside of the classroom while talking to people of different backgrounds and trying new foods. 

Kim talked about what his motivation was for doing the course, and why he thought students would benefit from learning about cultural divides. “I see a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding, and people feeling awkward or hurt. There’s a lot of self-imposed segregation, and I think a lot of it is not understanding other people’s culture,” he said. Kim maintained that it was important to expose students to traditions they aren’t familiar with.

Ngom commented about what he was most excited for the students to learn. “A course like this will help with intercultural competence, which is important now, and in the future in college. People should have those skills to face the globalized world, and learn one another’s values,” he said.

I see a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding, and people feeling awkward or hurt. There’s a lot of self-imposed segregation, and I think a lot of it is not understanding other people’s culture’

— Hank Kim

The course had activities such as acting, campus trips, Harkness discussions, and partner work to keep everyone engaged. Both the students and teachers voiced personal and family experiences that they have shared regarding their culture and immigration. 

Richard Wu ‘25 said his favorite part of the course was going on field trips to Harlem and to the Cabrini Immigrant Center. He also touched on what the course meant to him as an immigrant. “There’s definitely a special connection I felt with the teachers, because of how their journey in America was very similar to mine,” he said.