Students’ Insights into The Global Engagement Hall
The Global Engagement Hall (GEH) is a unique arrangement that Southwestern University offers. The GEH is offered to sophomores who want to broaden their perspectives about the world. These sophomores will then live together on the first floor of Moody-Shearn residence hall.
The GEH provides students with insight to a diverse amount of issues in the world. At the beginning of the year, students in the GEH come up with a list of social justice issues that they are concerned about and are knowledgeable about. They are then separated into groups who share similar topics.
Students are tasked with actively informing others about the issues that they are concerned about. So, each group would proceed to find articles concerning the topic at hand and all members of the GEH would read these selected articles. Then, at the end of the month, the hall would gather together for a dinner where an open discussion would be held. Some professors are also present at these dinners to join in the discussions as well. These dinners allow the members to broaden their perspectives about issues that they may not have known about or deeply cared about. Some examples of topics that have been discussed include marginalization in education, consumption in relation to environmental issues and gender.
The GEH also tries to find ways for its members to participate in community-engaged learning activities over the course of the months. These activities are usually matched with the themes of the month. Courtney Graves and Aimee Slagle arrange these events for the GEH. An example of one of these activities included Garden Days at SU for the environmental month. GEH members were also encouraged to go for Lavender Space Trainings for the gender month.
“Being in the GEH has made me more open to having discussions like these. People are very hesitant on having discussions based on social justice issues and I really like being in an environment where I’m able to share my opinion and what I know about something but also have different perspectives aside from mine. I don’t like having a bias and only knowing one side of the argument and not being aware of the other. This is very important, definitely since we are at a university like Southwestern which is very liberal. We also need to be well-rounded due to things such as paideia. Hence, we need to see the intersectionality between different social issues from different sides of the topic. The GEH has also helped me become a better student and future educator,” Veronica Espinosa, a sophomore who is currently living in the GEH, shared.
“Overall, it is generally encouraging that the GEH exists,” Susan Wright, a sophomore who is currently living in the GEH, said,” It is so easy to imagine that there are people who are intent on being stuck in their ways and not willing to look at different perspectives. And to know that we are part of a community that actively tries to understand more and be more engaged is comforting. You don’t naturally look for different perspectives, so having other people serves as a reminder and almost a way to keep yourself accountable when these topics are discussed. I really appreciate the GEH for showing me things around the area that I can do or ways that I can be sensitive to certain issues”
In all, the GEH is a great place to learn about global social justice issues and interact with other people who are open-minded and ready to learn. First-years should consider joining this organization when they think about their second-year housing, because this is a great learning experience that will definitely enrich your life.