Table of Contents | Next Article - M. York


by Marlene Cohen
(International Center Activities)

Yes, the International Center is "virtual" at present, but its student activities are alive and well. Over 300 students, faculty, and staff welcomed the Two Toms, British debaters Tom Hay and Tom Hamilton, to PGCC on October 17. They won the competition to travel the U.S. this term, thanks to the sponsorship of the National Communication Association and the English Speaking Union. Prince George’s Community College was fortunate enough to have them spend a day with us and a day with our sister college in international programs, College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

In the first hour, the debaters provided convincing arguments for and against the proposition, "This House Believes that the War in Iraq was the Right Move for the U.S. and Great Britain." The arguments were clever, cogent, and well developed. The vote of the audience, however, was decidedly against the proposition. The Two Toms fielded questions and comments for 45 minutes after the debate. Then, the discussion shifted to cultural issues. From 11:30 a.m. to the Honor Society lunch at 1:30 p.m., PGCC students eagerly discussed differences around the world and the image of the U.S.

One observation from the British visitors–how great it was that our PGCC students were so interested and so curious about the issues of the day. The answer to the weirdest thing they had seen in America was "guns on sale at the Wal-Mart." They also found Americans to be enamored of their cars and underutilizing public transport. (Picture to left, reading left to right, Tom Hamilton, Marlene Cohen, and Tom Hay.)

The students were hosted by Marlene Cohen and family, and funding was supplemented by a Mini-grant from College Life Services, a contribution from the United Nations Foundation, and the National Communication Association. The event was cosponsored by the International Center–Academic Support and the Honors Society.

Following September 11, 2001, the Muslim Student Association worked with the International Center–Academic Support to create informal student discussions that would allow PGCC students to understand Islam and its disassociation with terrorism. These lunchtime discussions, Learning Our Viewpoints, have expanded to address such issues as "Americans who smile but don’t really want to be your friend," "former U.S. military people who are saddened that local friends don’t want to know about the distant world," and "U.S. students who’ve found themselves being judged as violent by those they’ve met abroad." The discussions have developed a following. They are held twice each month, on the second week of the month.

From this experience, Muslim female students decided they wanted their own opportunities to explain their roles and address the constant questions about why they cover themselves. This fall and last spring, they developed panel presentations where they have explained their own decisions about how to practice their religion, and the differences in practice among their different nations.

In November, the Student Speakers Bureau is getting started, with West African students sharing their traditional stories in an English 241 Mythology course.

If you can see an appropriate spot for a non-native speaker in your class, contact Marlene Cohen on extension 0177, to discuss possibilities for an international student speaker.


The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 19, No. 1

Fall 2003