New Scholar housing brings the world into view

By Christine Kim
Schreyer Honors College, College Relations Intern

For Penn State students living in The GLOBE, the newly-renovated floor in Simmons Hall, it’s all a matter of perspective.

The floor, which opened in August, is a new special living option within honors housing for students in the Schreyer Honors College. Through weekly activities and monthly programs coordinated by its student-run executive board, The GLOBE's mission is to provide students with the opportunity to gain a global worldview.

“The GLOBE is definitely about being a part of something bigger than yourself and understanding how small-scale actions can affect a larger-scale populace,” said Preet Ahluwalia, a junior scholar majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology who serves as the floor’s scholar assistant, a liaison between residents and the honors college staff, and is a member of the executive board. “We focus on global citizenship so it’s a place to think about how you can actually impact change.”

Anurag Kumar, a sophomore scholar majoring in finance and economics, points out that just having The GLOBE on campus could encourage global consciousness among students.

“It’s a really good way to get awareness out about global issues, global programs, what’s going on in the world that we don’t really see,” Kumar said. “It’s about building a global perspective, and The GLOBE is a community of kids where we share each other’s interests, which is really important to find on campus. I don’t know what I was expecting, but everything -- the general living spaces, the people -- definitely exceeds my expectations.”

One summer was all it took for the much-loved Simmons Dining Hall to be transformed into the newest residence floor on Penn State’s University Park campus. With individual bathrooms, back-lit ceilings, carpeted floors and spacious rooms, The GLOBE is an updated version of “K” floor in McElwain Hall. Its 74 Schreyer Scholars share an interest in global awareness and must “earn” their privilege to live in The GLOBE, said Christian Brady, the Schreyer Honors College’s dean.

“Once we learned that it would be gorgeous rooms and facilities, I realized it wouldn’t be ideal to have those rooms simply go into general rotation because there would be debates and arguments over room assignments,” Brady said. Admission into The GLOBE consisted of upperclassmen writing essays; freshmen had to indicate their interest and were chosen based on an essay written as part of their Schreyer application.

In addition, current residents must remain in good standing in The GLOBE by attending and actively participating in SLO programs throughout the semester -- and that’s where Ahluwalia and the executive board come in. Programs are geared toward expanding each resident’s global perspective and are divided into three broad categories: a speaker series, a faculty roundtable and study abroad panels.

“In terms of professors here, we’re focusing on people who have worked abroad or bring a real global focus to their research,” Ahluwalia said. “We try to focus on people who are making a difference -- and it’s stuff that we can all do as well.”

Within the first week of the fall semester, Ahluwalia and the executive board had hit the ground running. Its first program was a screening of “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” a 2008 film based on a true story about the gruesome death of an Iranian woman. Though it was “very graphic and very painful to watch,” Ahluwalia said it prompted discussion and introduced residents to the importance of global awareness. The GLOBE’s first faculty visit was from Mia Bloom, professor of international studies and women’s studies at Penn State as well as a fellow at the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Penn State. A few days later, Arun Upneja, professor of hospitality management at Penn State and the associate dean of Schreyer Honors College, and Elena Galinova, The GLOBE’s faculty adviser, presented a joint lecture called “Globalization in Our Penn State Community.”

So far, The GLOBE has had a great start, said Ben Stewart, a first-year scholar double majoring in Spanish and Russian.

“Through The GLOBE, we’ve done a lot in a very short amount of time,” said Stewart. “The programs themselves are all globally-based, with the movie showings, the speaker series and the presentations, but there’s definitely enough variety in the material that, even if it doesn’t directly appeal to you, there will be something that comes up that you’ll take much more of an interest in.”

Stewart adds that all of these programs have given him the opportunity to get more involved during his first semester. “With the network and through very distinguished faculty, it puts so many opportunities in front of you. I don’t know why you wouldn’t take them,” he said.

Dean Brady also said The GLOBE and its programs have value for more than just its own residents. Rather than The GLOBE being a “cloistered, isolated experience,” he wants it to contribute to the larger Penn State campus by utilizing the programs as well as the space itself. “We want the programming to spread out to all of the college and all of the University,” he said.

To accomplish that, The GLOBE will offer other students the chance to attend events throughout the semester. Ahluwalia adds that this larger goal also involves partnering with smaller organizations on campus and providing them with opportunities to recruit and attract students to events. Through collaboration with multicultural groups on campus, diversity outreach, the University Office of Global Programs and even minority groups, it’s “just a mishmash of things to try to bring the word out and let people go to what they want,” she said.

For Divya Hosangadi, a first-year Scholar majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, living in The GLOBE was the perfect opportunity to continue pursuing her budding interests in global issues.

“In high school, I really liked learning about different cultures and focusing on issues dealing with diversity and global issues in general,” Hosangadi said. “When I decided to come to Schreyer and Penn State, I became really interested in The GLOBE because I wanted to get involved in a community that focused on issues dealing with diversity and globalization.”

Hosangadi's enthusiasm demonstrates the importance of Schreyer’s global perspective mission.

“It’s important to learn about these global issues because it’s necessary to become a world citizen,” she said. “As college students, we’re eventually going to go out into the world, and we’re going to contribute something to society. If we don’t know the many issues there are in the world, it’s going to be hard to successfully do that.”

For more information about honors housing and the Schreyer Honors College, call 814-863-2635 or visit shc.psu.edu online.

Last Updated January 10, 2014