A floor meeting buzzes with excitement over a successful Valentine’s Day celebration.
“It was awesome,” beams Marquette senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, Joe Daufenbach.
Thibault Desbiens, an international student from France chimes in, saying, “I had never seen anything like it. We put paper bag mailboxes outside of our doors and got valentines. In France, Valentine’s Day is only for couples, not anyone else, so this is the first time I’ve celebrated like this.”
Marquette senior Ryan Chambers says, “I haven’t had a Valentine’s Day like this since elementary school. I missed this old school fun.”
In February, the residents held a Valentine’s speed dating night to try to live up to their Christmas party in the previous season. They frequently gather in celebration of anything and everything. Between Super Bowl parties and Apple Holler, beach parties and rock climbing, there is never a shortage of activities to do with the Global Village community.
Global Village is an open community in Campus Town West where two international students room with two Marquette students (who are referred to as “ambassadors”) in a four-bedroom apartment. The program was started in 2002 by the Office of University Apartments, the Office of International Education and International Business Studies in an attempt to expose Marquette students to international culture in an on-campus setting. Marquette students must apply to become members of Global Village, and they serve as mediators for the international students in their introduction to America. International students come to Global Village from all over the world, from France to Ecuador, and the blend of cultures makes for a community of students who represent 14 different countries and speak 17 languages.
Join the Village
According to ambassador, Chambers, joining Global Village is a competitive process. Interested sophomores and juniors can apply in the fall for their following junior or senior year to become a member of the close-knit community. The application includes a written section and an interview. Thirty students are selected each year to become student ambassadors, and these students go through a special training program to better understand the exchange students who they will be living with. Foreign exchange students are selected through a similarly competitive application process which requires them to achieve a passing score on the TOEFL English language proficiency exam.
In addition to the cultural benefits of living in a diverse community, Global Village provides leadership opportunities that make the community an exciting place. Each ambassador and international student gets an opportunity to plan programs throughout the semester. Global Village residents join committees in order to plan events and promote the community on campus. Almost every student, whether an ambassador or international student, is a member of a committee.
“We try to get everyone on a committee,” says junior ambassador Joe Daufenbach. “We have a committee for appreciation, so when it’s someone’s birthday, they make posters.”
Other committees include holiday planning groups, a relay for life team, an ad and promotional team and a Hunger Clean-Up team. Global Village committees allow students an opportunity to hold leadership positions and plan fun activities for the community. The Global Village student committees strive to plan as many fun programs and events as possible every year. Holiday committees plan different holiday programs for students to enjoy. With so many cultures in one community, it’s no surprise that the committees make sure there are a wide variety of programs available.
Whether through rock climbing or a Brewers game, Global Village committees ensure that students are never bored.
Global Village works to create a culturally diverse community where students can learn Spanish while eating Chinese food, with participants taking on four different distinct roles within the Global Village community.
American residents have the opportunity to take on the role of student ambassadors in the Global Village community, and they work hard to help international students comfortably integrate into the Marquette community. Ambassadors do this by involving themselves in committees, introducing foreign exchange students to life at Marquette, and making an effort to get to know everyone in the community.
“I know all of my neighbors at the Global Village, whereas in other apartment complexes, the doors are always shut and nobody really knows or talks to their neighbors,” Daufenbach says. “If I need to borrow something, I have 15 rooms of people to ask. It’s almost like living in a house with multiple rooms rather than like living in an apartment.”
Exchange students take on a different role in the Global Village community, and they are encouraged to take in the experience as a whole. According to Desbiens, this transition into American culture is a lot easier with the help of the Global Village staff.
“It is easy to fit in here, and everyone is happy to be social and that makes the Global Village a really exciting place,” Desbiens says.
One person who helps this cross-cultural merge is the community assistant. The community assistant is similar to an RA in a regular dorm; facilitating and helping students in the Global Village plan programs by aiding with logistics and funding that the community receives from the university. With the community assistant helping the students to better understand each other, it’s easy to see why there are few conflicts in the community. The current Community Assistant is Shona Hang, a senior biomedical sciences major and Robert E. McNair scholar.
“Shona is fantastic,” says Tori Dykes, a senior ambassador. “She is very well-liked, and I think that she is a great community assistant.”
Ambassador Ryan Chambers agrees, saying, “Shona handles a job that could be really stressful with a lot of ease, and she makes this experience fun for everyone.”
Dan Bergen, the Assistant Dean for University Apartments and Off-Campus Student Services at Marquette, oversees Global Village. Bergen acts as a mentor and an adult figure in the Global Village community, and according to Daufenbach, his presence is greatly appreciated by the students.
“Dan Bergen is great,” Daufenbach says. “He makes the experience enjoyable, and the Global Village just wouldn’t be the same without him.”
Become a community
The students living in Global Village work to promote an open learning environment. According to Iñigo Garcia, an international exchange student from San Sebastián, Pais Vasco, Spain, most ambassadors come for the cultural experience, and most walk away with improved language skills and an inside look into a variety of cultures.
While Marquette students are not required to know another language aside from English, picking up on some of the various languages spoken in the community is inevitable when living around so many different cultures.
“It is a very helpful experience, there’s always someone to help me with Spanish homework, and I can help the international students with English,” says Chambers, Garcia’s roommate.
While residents enjoy the cultural experience of a Global Village community, Desbiens points out an unconventional downside.
“The Global Village is an amazing place to live, it is almost like a mini campus within the big campus, which is really good. We become like a family, and in a big college like Marquette, that is really special. A weakness, though? Definitely the curtains,” Desbiens says, laughing. “There are no curtains in any of the Global Village rooms, and that was a difficult adjustment when I got here. Global Village is perfect, except it just needs more curtains.”
“It’s one of the best places to live in the entire world,” says Brice Gillet, an international student from Évreux, France. “We’re kind of like a family here.”
“If you aren’t social, though,” he jokes. “You might not want to come to the Global Village.”