To help students embrace the rich multicultural experiences beyond the bricks of NC State’s campus, University Housing students and staff members regularly organize diversity trips to expose residents to life and culture outside of North Carolina. Students challenge their comfort zones and are encouraged to critically examine their personal worldviews. Diversity trips not only expand a student’s education beyond the classroom, they leave a lasting impression and stimulate personal growth.
Washington, D.C. with the Women of Welch (WOW) Village
During Fall Break, 10 students from the Women of Welch (WOW) Village participated in a three-day trip to Washington, D.C. As part of this third annual trip, the women saw “The Laramie Project,” a play about the town’s reaction to the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in 1998. The three-act piece by Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theater Company depict more than 60 interviews of Laramie town members as they come to terms with homophobia and hate crimes.
“I really enjoyed ‘The Laramie Project,’” said Allison Press, a junior Graphic Design major. “We saw it in a church because of the government shutdown. It was a really powerful play and fit in with the WOW values for equality and social justice.”
The ten women also visited the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Va. The Workhouse opened in 1910 for short-term prisoners to work in an open environment. In 1917, women suffragists were arrested and sent to the workhouse for picketing in front of the White House for women’s rights. Suffragists at the workhouse also went on a hunger strike and were force fed to avoid martyrdom for their cause.
“I love the history of D.C.,” said Morgan Tate, a freshman Political Science major. “On this trip, I was struck by the idea that it is the most powerful place in the world, but it just feels like a regular city.”
The WOW women also met with Running Start, a bi-partisan group that encourages young women to get into politics, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) to learn more about how the AAUW supports women in higher education. Lastly, the women met with Bridget Matty, who works for the National Counterterrorism Council, about her role and what is it like to be a woman in a male-dominated work environment in Washington, D.C.
“It was really great to meet these people,” Press said. “I didn’t know that women needed to be ‘tapped’ to run for office, even student government positions. Women have a stronger internal barrier and I’ve even noticed it in myself. It was very interesting to meet women who overcame this barrier.”
Charleston, S.C. with Wolf Village residents
During Fall Break, 15 Wolf Village residents and three advisors took a four-day trip to Charleston, S.C., to learn more about cultural appropriation.
“We have never done a Diversity Trip to Charleston before,” said Janine Weaver-Douglas, Assistant Director University Apartments. “We determined that Charleston was an ideal location to explore cultural appropriation because of its convenient location for travel and for affordability, center for a great deal of American history, especially in the context of African, Caribbean, French, Spanish and Native American culture, as well as in the context of the embodiment of Southern culture, and because it was a location not yet explored or used for a previous diversity trip.”
Residents toured the Old Slave Mart and Auction House, Avery Research Center and the Charleston City Market. Students also took self-guided tours of the College of Charleston and the city. The group stayed at the Notso Hostel and ate at the historical Hyman’s Seafood restaurant.
“I learned a lot of history from the museums we visited,” said James Age, a junior Business Administration major. “But what impacted me the most was actually physically standing in a place where actual human slaves were sold. At 20 years old, slaves had reached their peak value of $900. Being there was a very memorable experience.”
Students also served and prepared food at the Lowcountry Food Bank as part of a service learning opportunity. To reflect on their time in Charleston, the group was asked to spend a few hours each day talking about their experiences. They listened and challenged their comfort zones with critical thinking questions about the cultural impacts of privilege, advantage, Affirmative Action and others.
“I would definitely recommend that students attend if they can,” Age said. “Don’t second guess yourself. I would definitely go again. It’s a great way to meet new people and make new friends.”
New York City, N.Y. with Global Village
During Fall Break, 16 Global Village residents traveled to New York City, N.Y., to experience the culture and art of one of the most recognizable cities in the United States. Residents visited a few iconic sites, including the Statue of Liberty, Charging Bull, New York Stock Exchange, Chinatown, Little Italy, Central Park and Top of the Rock-Rockefeller Center. Between sightseeing adventures, residents also took time to explore the city on their own.
“This was my third time to New York City,” said Guilherme Magalhaes, a Science Mobility/Mechanical Engineering student from Sao Paulo, Brazil. “This trip was definitely the best. I have been with my parents before, but during this trip I finally understood the beauty of the city. Last time I was here, it was winter and the city was covered in snow and felt dead. This time the trees in Central Park were so beautiful and Times Square was indescribable.”
To take in the artistic culture of the city, residents visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to explore the art scene and watched two Broadway shows, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Chicago.”
"I really enjoyed watching ‘Chicago,’” Magalhaes said. “It was really exciting.”’
Residents: talk to your RA or RD for more information about upcoming diversity trips in your area during Spring Break. To learn more about University Housing’s commitment to diversity, read our diversity statement.