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09/10/04 - Reinhardt College Invites Community to Join in a Yearlong Celebration of The Year of Asia

Never been to Asia, but you would like to go? No problem. Reinhardt College is inviting the community to enjoy Asian sights, sounds, business savvy, and even delicious foods during the College's Year of Asia, YOA, which begins on Sept. 21, 2004, with an Asian Street Festival.  

This festival will be held on the College's main Campus in Waleska, Ga., from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can see Iyengar yoga, Shaolin martial arts, Chinese traditional dance, Tai Chi, or Yoshukai Karate, or visit booths featuring Mehndi Henna Body Art, origami, Chinese calligraphy, Mochi Zuki rice pounding, the ancient Japanese art of amezaiku candymaking, and much more. Asian foods will be served by the College's dining service and available to visitors for $6 per person.

Already the yearlong schedule is packed with interesting and varied activities. Take part in a lecture on Jan. 26, 2005, featuring Asian American novelist and poet Shawn Wong. Enjoy music or dance from New Zealand, China or Central Java. Learn from the wisdom and experience of speakers from the realms of business, art, education and science. Participate in a reading circle about a book by an Asian author. And that's just a few of the already scheduled activities, almost all of which are open to the public.

Organizing such diverse plans is no small feat, but Director of International Studies Dr. Pamela S. Wilson and the YOA committee handle it with enthusiasm. Since 2001, Wilson has coordinated the College's study abroad program, and in 2003 she "put legs" on an idea from Dr. Donald Gregory, an assistant professor of sociology at Reinhardt, and the International Studies Committee to focus campus-wide programming on the specific cultures, geographies and faiths in one region of the world.

This idea has evolved into the "Year of..." series, which began in 2003-04 with the Year of the Americas, and continues in 2004-05 with a focus on Asia and the Pacific Rim, as well as the Asian diaspora in America.

Wilson sees this as part of a larger effort to internationalize Reinhardt, to "pull the world onto Campus, and to put students into the world," she said. "It isn't enough that students just learn about other cultures. They have to taste it, smell it, feel it, speak the language, see the crafts. The experiential side is so important."

Reinhardt President Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood agrees. "The Year of Asia is part of our growing international focus," he said. "The broad involvement of students, faculty, staff and the community makes this a very special effort."

Nancy Carter, an assistant professor of education and a representative to the YOA Committee, sees this type learning as the core of a liberal arts environment. "We need to learn to experience the world in all its complexities," she said. Such efforts also help broaden student perspectives as they better understand themselves. "The whole idea of the 'Year of...' is to give opportunities to take interests further, to go in new directions, to recognize where you are from and what you bring with you to the learning environment because of your own culture."

Wilson also has witnessed that students with broader world views have greater empathy for others; they see the world differently from their peers. "I want students to be more motivated, to be inspired to step outside of their cultural comfort zones," she said. "That's what it takes to be successful in today's world, and we owe it to our students to provide these types of opportunities."

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