New student organization to build positive diverse relationships

May 04, 2011

University Park, Pa. — OPenn State, a new student organization with the mission to facilitate positive interactions between students of different backgrounds, is in the process of forming.

Inspired by the Global Engagement and Leadership Experience (GELE) that several of the co-founders participated in, Lan Li, Quchat Shekarri, Kimberly Klaniecki, Yingxi Wu, Jinghao Lu, Katia Esarey, Ruiwen Su, Bang Chen and Basayir Al-Lawati decided they needed a program like this as part of life at Penn State.

The Global Engagement and Leadership Experience was a two-day program with 15 international students and 15 American students who heard each other’s views about what it means to be a “global citizen.”

During the retreat at Bald Eagle Park, the students discussed the issues regarding the disconnection between the international community and Penn State at large.

With the goal of wanting to bridge the gap between international students and the rest of the University community, OPenn State founders plan to finish the paperwork by May and have a new organization for students by next semester.

The name OPenn State originated from the acronym “Organization Promoting Everyone’s Networking Needs,” which illustrates the organization’s vision for creating a more “open” Penn State by welcoming students of different backgrounds to communicate more.

The founders currently are emphasizing recruitment for both international and American students. The first public information session to be hosted by OPenn State will be an informational presentation at the International Student Orientation in August and will focus on the importance of engagement and getting involved with activities on campus. The group also plans to solicit members at the involvement fairs that take place at the beginning of every semester.

OPenn State will be spending much of next semester on a project for the spring. They hope to host a style contest that will be open to students of different backgrounds. Instead of a cultural fashion show, it will revolve around Penn State pride.

Lan Li, one of the co-founders, shared an example for one of the themes of the style contest: "If our style is the '80s, all different backgrounds will show their view of it regardless of how differently they interpreted it, allowing students to show their creativity."

Internally, OPenn State plans to work closely with the Global Engagement and Leadership Experience by organizing educational programs which will bring in speakers to educate members about different issues relevant to the international and local communities.

Li is passionate about this organization because of the perspective that international students realize there is a disconnection. “A lot of the students come to Penn State wanting to get involved but get anxious and are not comfortable stepping out of their comfort zone,” she said.

OPenn State benefits international students by creating a comfortable environment where they are encouraged to actively engage with the larger community instead of clustering with their own cultural group.

The organization is beneficial for the larger Penn State community, because it provides opportunities to learn about different cultures. Many people are interested, but do not know where to go to learn.

“We aim to provide a comfortable environment where students of different cultures are willing to learn and interact with each other in a positive manner,” said Li.


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 16, 2011