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Immersive experience

For the second year, a group from Widener University took a spring break trip to Miami that broadened cultural horizons.

Junior Rayd Barqawi, one of 10 students, found the experience to be a rewarding one.

“I'm coming from a Palestinian background, and I'm first-generation in America, so for me, it was an experience to see other cultures also being first generation, because a lot of people down there are first-generation or second-generation Americans,” said Barqawi, an engineering major from Lowell, N.J.

“For me it was a really big experience because I got to see other people and how they integrate themselves into our society in America,” Barqawi said.

This spring, Widener offered two other cultural immersion trips, one to West Virginia and the other to Atlanta. On the West Virginia trip, to the Appalachia region, students learned about issues related to mountaintop mining removal. The new Atlanta trip immersed international students in the history of the civil rights movement.

Lisa Parladé, a graduate assistant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and a graduate student in student affairs leadership, said that the trip experience was reflective of Widener’s mission and values.

At Widener University, we talk about We're All Widener. It's our pluralistic campaign in which we say that all students all community members have importance and are of value and have a place at the proverbial table,” Parladé said.

More than 60 students applied to participate in the trip, which was led by Michelle Meekins-Davis, Director of Multicultural Student Affairs, Dr. Beatriz Urraca, associate professor of Spanish, and Parladé.

The group’s experiences included a trip to Little Havana, a migrant farmworking tour, a visit to Little Haiti, and learning about and working with programs that help young people.

Urraca said the learning experience was a multifaceted and valuable one for Widener’s students, and she recommended participation in the university’s cultural immersion trips.

I would just encourage everyone to apply for a trip like this. Because it's affordable and it's a great experience to get your feet wet if you have not traveled outside of the Tri-State area,” Urraca said.