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Catawba Announces Recipients of 2018 Cross-Cultural Experience Awards

March 15, 2018

Category: Academics, Athletics, Business & Economics, Students

Three Catawba College students and two Catawba faculty members are the recipients of 2018 Cross-Cultural Experience Awards.

lucapicci.jpgThe award application from junior and varsity tennis player Luca Picci (pictured at right) of Zimbabwe was deemed the most meritorious by the selection committee and he received $1,000.  His plan is to use his award to provide a seed grant to an Italian-based humanitarian and economic development organization, CESVI, that he worked with last summer in his hometown of Harare, Zimbabwe.  CESVI, which operates in impoverished communities, provided a street children relief program, the House of Smiles, in Harare that offered a safe space for these children to stay during the day. Picci, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics & Finance with a double minor in Spanish and Mathematics, hopes to use his cross-cultural award to raise more funds for CESVI to provide additional benefits to the street children during the day or to provide development of sleeping spaces for them in the evenings.

As part of the cross-cultural exchange, Picci proposes sharing his experiences in the form of a presentation for the greater Catawba College community. He will explain how the funds he received and raised “were used to have a real effect” for the street children and he “will share the stories from the House of Smiles.”

Picci shared this in his application for the 2018 cross-cultural award: “I am an international student and I understand the need and the benefit for exchanges between peoples to promote cooperation and dialogue. In receiving this award, I work towards this ideal.”

Other 2018 cross-cultural award recipients include Dr. Gary Freeze, a professor of history, with a $750 award; junior Rebecca Smith of Clemmons, N.C., a $250 award; freshman Keenan Tuck of Warrington, England, a $250 award; and Dr. Joshua Smicker, chair and visiting assistant professor of communication, a $250 award. 

Freeze plans to use his award to develop and create an annual Catawba Nation Day on campus that would honor the heritage ties of the college with the Catawba Indians and recreate “a cross-cultural understanding of the college by the nation, and the nation by the college.”  He notes that most members of the community have little or no idea of the parallel stories form the founding days of both entities on the Catawba River watershed and that there is no visual representations of that heritage currently on campus.  His three-fold idea is to create a permanent display of Catawba Nation artifacts on campus, invite tribal officials to attend the official opening of this display, and creation of an annual event to accurately showcase history and customs of the Catawba Nation.

Smith, a music major, hopes to use her award to help cover expenses that she will incur during her study abroad program experience this summer at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.  She will document her three-month-long experience in a series of videos that she plans to share with the Catawba community.

Tuck, an international student from England who plays on the men’s soccer team at Catawba, will use his award to help underwrite the costs of traveling in Europe on the Interrail this summer. His itinerary will take him to Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Split, Ljubljana, Milan, Monaco, and Montecatini, plus to Florence, Pisa, Rome and Venice.

Smicker’s award would help cover his travel accommodations this summer as he participates on a panel and presents a paper at the 2018 Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference in Shanghai, China. He plans to use his experience and the contacts he makes attending various conference events to develop a programming opportunity for the Catawba community, specifically focusing on improving intercultural communications between American and Chinese/East Asian students and workers.

Other applicants for these awards included students Brooklyn Miles of Concord, N.C., and Cristian Solis of Lenoir, N.C., and faculty members Professor Jacob Hahn, an instructor and accompanist in music, and Dr. Renee Just, an assistant professor of business and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Experiential Development (CEED).

The Cross-Cultural Experience Awards were established in 2016 with an endowment gift funded by Catawba alumna Anne Esterline Fogg ’69 of Durham.  Fogg wanted to assure that members of the Catawba community – students, faculty and staff – could have life-changing, and shareable, cross-cultural experiences like she had as an undergraduate, and later while living abroad for 25 years.

Esterline Fogg has stressed that cross-cultural experiences do not necessarily have to be international experiences. Her goal when she decided to establish Catawba’s Cross-Cultural Experience Award was to celebrate the impact that other cultures can make on a person, and to recognize that all cultures contain defining elements to celebrate and embrace.

Applications for Catawba’s Cross-cultural Experience Awards are accepted each academic year with awards made during early spring semester.  Catawba faculty, staff, and students are eligible to apply.

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