By Marshall Ervine (Photo by Tim Hanger)

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski once said that Americans are ahistorical, monolingual, and they don’t travel. While this generalization may be true for many Americans, it is not true for most Osher members, and it certainly is not true for UR students because the university places such great emphasis on global education. Because of the university’s commitment, students now have a passport to international food, news, and culture without having to leave the UR campus. In addition, 11 percent of the University’s 3,074 undergraduates are international students representing 71 foreign countries.

The journey begins at the Carole Weinstein International Center, located on the northeastern part of campus, between the Law School and Sarah Burnet Hall. Named in honor of Richmond alumna and former Trustee Carole Weinstein, who has generously supported UR’s international education programs, this building’s award winning design continues the Collegiate Gothic of UR’s original architect, Ralph Cram, but also incorporates various Mediterranean and Moorish architectural details. Within the central courtyard, observe the beautiful spiraled columns, the archways, the balconies, and a mandala constructed from stones from 48 different countries. The center of the mandala is highlighted by a water feature under a large, bronze, and stainless steel globe. Give it a push!

The International Center houses the Office of International Education, twelve additional departments and programs including modern languages, literature, and cultures, environmental studies, geography, and international study programs. The center also features high-tech classrooms, meeting spaces, faculty offices, study areas, a small amphitheater that serves as an outdoor classroom, the International Commons, the Global Studio, the International Center Gallery, and the Passport Café.

The International Commons, which opens onto the center’s courtyard, is a versatile multipurpose space used for various formal and informal programs, such as receptions, lectures, and musical events which have an international theme. It has been the location of several Osher events.

The Global Studio, located on the second floor, may be of particular interest to Osher members who wish to sharpen their language skills or perhaps even to learn a new language. The Studio has a number of resources from around the world, including ten streams of international TV programming; SCOLA Insta-Class lessons that can revive, maintain, and improve listening comprehension; as well as other resources for language learning and practice, including materials for children.  More detailed information on the Global Studio’s resources can be found at sites.google.com/site/globalstudiolearning/finding-resources and globalstudio.wordpress.com/world-tv.

Passport Café is a popular informal eatery at the center, serving reasonably priced breakfast and lunch/dinner fare. A variety of internationally inspired items are available on the menu. Check the SpiderBytes campus announcements for daily specials. Some campus notables, including President Ayers, have been seen dining at the café. Jane Dowrick especially recommends the gelato.

Be sure to make a stop at the International Center Gallery before leaving the center. This public exhibition space, located on the first floor adjacent to the International Commons, is used for displaying art and other materials that relate to UR’s international education programs.

UR continues its mission of international education and understanding by sponsoring the International Film Series. These films, shown in the original language with English subtitles in the Ukrop Auditorium, are free and open to the public. The Film Studies Program also offers lectures and film screenings that examine how this media reflects cultural practices and traditions within the global community.

Don’t forget about the annual ChinaFest, sponsored by The Rose Group for Cross-Cultural Understanding. This popular program features notable speakers and screenings of Chinese films in an effort to foster understanding and good will. Information about ChinaFest is included in each Osher Spring Catalog.

All Osher members are encouraged to take advantage of these international programs and opportunities.  You will expand your understanding of the world, and as Martha Stewart might say, “That’s a good thing!”

Special thanks to Dr. Sharon Scinicariello for providing information on the Global Studio and to Ms. Barbara Vaughan for conducting an informational tour of the Carole Weinstein International Center.

About the Photo

Titled “Transference,” this piece of art hangs in the Carole Weinstein International Center and was the 2012 fall art project for two sections of the course ARTS 105 Studio Foundations: Color & Composition. It is made up of 24 individual designs utilizing each student’s concept of color and form, and the combined result achieves the final design.