The Global Service House, a joint project of Washington and Lee University's Center for International Education and the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capabilities, opened this fall to provide a focus for internationalism, a locale for increased cross-cultural engagement, and a visible home for service activity.
In addition to housing 17 students who were selected because of their interest in internationalism and service learning, the facility is the first permanent home to W&L's successful Campus Kitchen. That organization has served more than 100,000 meals in partnership with 15 community agencies in Rockbridge County since its founding in 2006. Campus Kitchen had previously worked out of several different facilities.
The residents, both international and American students, have been taking full advantage of the new house since they moved in at the start of the fall term. "Students are taking the initiative in using the residence," said Josy Tarantini, the resident adviser of the Global Service House. "For example, the Student Association for International Learning, known as SAIL, has gotten a lot of students into the house through events such as a pizza party and a Hispanic Night. These events promote interaction between international students, residents of the house and other students with international interests. So they are making great use of the new space."
Tarantini, a sophomore from Morgantown, W.Va., took a gap year before attending Washington and Lee. She has volunteered in Peru and Honduras as well as for non-profits in the United States. A Bonner Scholar at W&L—the Bonner Program develops leadership skills for students with an interest in service and civic engagement—she epitomizes the type of student attracted to the Global Service House.
The student residents are interested in international learning as well as community service. They are involved with W&L’s Nabors Service League, the Bonner Program and Campus Kitchen.
"We're excited, of course, for a permanent home for the Campus Kitchen," said Jenny Davidson, coordinator of student service learning at W&L and of Campus Kitchen. "But we're also very excited for the opportunity to engage students in conversations around social-justice issues and how they can make an impact with their service in the local community."
Harlan Beckley, director of the Shepherd Program and the Fletcher Otey Thomas Professor of Religion, described the new Campus Kitchen home as "a beautiful and functional facility for a student community initiative that has been popular since 2006. This new location makes it possible for many students to collaborate and make much better use of this refurbished residence."
The building was renovated last summer to create a variety of public spaces for groups to hold meetings or larger functions. The community kitchen allows events such as cooking classes, dinners and receptions. For example, the W&L German Club has held a dinner in the house, and the Russian Club has hosted Sunday tea parties, the Hispanic Heritage Dinner and salsa lessons. It is located in the former Delta Tau Delta fraternity house, at 106 Lee Avenue.
The Global Service House is the new name of the former International House, a residence that existed at Washington and Lee for around 20 years and mainly attracted international students. Now American students compose around half of the inhabitants.
"It's for any upper-class student who is interested in international learning, multicultural living, community service and getting involved with the Campus Kitchen," explained Amy Richwine, associate director for international education. "So it's got a larger mandate now that is helping to draw more interest from students."
The Global Service House is a tangible manifestation of the Global Learning Initiative at Washington and Lee, according to Larry Boetsch, director of international education at W&L.
"Our aim is to integrate global learning, in a clear and comprehensive way, into the education of every Washington and Lee undergraduate so that we are able to fulfill what we say in our mission statement, which is that W&L graduates will be prepared to engage in a global and diverse society," said Boetsch.
"The overall success of the Global Learning Initiative ultimately depends on people understanding what our foundation is for global learning and then taking their own initiative to make it work,” Boetsch continued. “The Global Service House is an outstanding example, where W&L provided the facility and the path that we think this house might take, but the students themselves are the ones who are taking the initiative to make it happen. So we couldn't be happier about that."
Further information about the Global Service House, including a calendar of events and a site to reserve rooms, can be found at http://www.wlu.edu/x56744.xml.