There is a clear divide in the world between races, religions and political ideologies. As much as anyone would like to deny it, there is also a divide on campus between domestic and international students.
The good news is there are people who are willing to put in the work to bridge that divide. A section of University Seminar is devoted to bettering the community.
This year, the class teamed up with two other sections of University Seminar classes for international students to host Northwest’s second Bearcat Bash.
Elizabeth Dimmit teaches the community betterment seminar. She brings 10 community organizations into the class to speak to the students.
“Each organization identified a need,” Dimmit said. “They listened to the Ministry Center, the Humane Society, Horace Mann and various others.”
After listening to the organizations, the students were required to brainstorm ways they could meet the needs of the organizations. The students then choose one organization to help.
Last year, the students chose Horace Mann Laboratory School.
“They wanted to give parents some time out where there was a free event for students to come and engage with college students,” Dimmit said.
The Bearcat Bash brings in elementary school students from Nodaway county to hangout with college students and give their parents the day off.
This year’s incoming freshmen heard about the success of the Bearcat Bash last year, but there was also another need they wanted to address.
“The international student office had identified there was a need to help international students connect with our traditional students as well as connect them with the community to build better understanding and respect between those groups of people,” Dimmit said. “So my students gravitated towards that and decided to incorporate this mission with the Bearcat Bash and they made it Bearcat Bash: Culture Splash.”
The community betterment University Seminar and the international sections met to build relationships. Each shared experiences and culture with each other.
The classes wanted to open up the opportunity to children so they could experience different cultures.
The event was held at Horace Mann Dec. 3 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The children were divided up by grade, and every hour went to a different class full of activities.
“We tried to make sure that in some way culture was incorporated in each class,” Dimmit said.
In music class, students from Nepal taught the children about their music and dances. There was also a student who taught Irish dancing.
“Music is just a universal language,” Dimmit said. “Everyone has music. It is something that unites us, but the unique intricacies within each culture is what’s special and unique.”
In the science room, the children made slime and put trinkets inside the slime. When they pulled out one of the trinkets, they discussed the importance of the trinket in the U.S. and other countries. They also made volcanoes and discussed Polynesian culture and Hawaii.
In sports, students taught criquet and some of the students from Spain had a game about handkerchiefs.
“In all of it, it was about having conversations,” Dimmit said. “It is important for kids to learn to ask questions when they don’t understand.”
Freshman elementary education major Kaitlin Kreider volunteered at the event to spend time working with children. She felt the experience was very important for the kids who came.
“They were able to see and understand kids from other cultures and appreciate them more,” Kreider said. “They could appreciate the differences and realize everyone is different, and that is a good thing.”
In the morning, Kreider helped out in the game room where the kids played minute-to-win-it games.
“All the volunteers had a really fun time with kids. It was an enriching experience I plan to do next year and the years after,” Kreider said.
Sophomore Lauren Buck was a part of the first Bearcat Bash and came back as Dimmit’s peer advisor to put on the second one.
“This event is important because it is a fun day for kids to hang out, play and learn with college students,” Buck said. “It gives parents a chance to go holiday shopping, relax or go on a date.”
Being from a rural part of the state, the children who came to the event have not had many opportunities to experience different cultures.
“Culture is an important thing to learn about,” Dimmit said. “It is all around us, and it is important for kids to begin to open their eyes to it.”
Including the international students was a way to provide authentic culture but also for volunteers to form new relationships. Buck believes this was an important part of the event.
Buck and the rest of her class put in great effort to pull off the event.
“We as a class want to thank all the volunteers who helped throughout the day,” Buck said. “We are very happy about how this day turned out.”
Although the seminar class chose to adopt the Bearcat Bash again this year, this may not be the case in the future.
“It is important that students choose the project and get invested,” Dimmit said. “If I choose the project for them, they lose their ownership of the event.”
The future of the Bearcat Bash is still up in the air. It lies on Northwest’s community and students. It is up to organizations to take control.