International students organize to add cultural diversity to Whitman campus
Thursday, Apr 19, 2012
Walla Walla is not exactly a cultural Mecca, and Whitman’s international students want to change that.
Whitman College’s international students hosted the first-ever United World Colleges (UWC) Davis Scholars Summit held on the west coast. The event was held March 30-31.
UWC schools are academic institutions located across the world. They are highly international, two-year International Baccalaureate programs in which many of the students attending have already earned a high school diploma or their country’s equivalent.
“The summit reminded us of who we are as UWC students: agents of change wherever we are,” said Thabo Liphoto ’14, an international student from Maseru, Lesotho. “We are going to foster international and intercultural understanding.”
Liphoto, a math and economics double major, is one of four Whitman students who organized the scholars summit, which drew UWC students from across the Northwest.
“We were essentially replicating what was happening, and has been happening for a long time, on the East Coast, which is full of UWC students,” Liphoto said.
The American philanthropist Shelby Davis offers scholarship assistance to any UWC student graduate who chooses to go to one of a select group of United States institutions, of which Whitman is one.
“The students who come to Whitman under this program are officially called Davis UWC scholars,” said Rachna Sinnott, Whitman’s Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations. Sinnott worked closely with the students in preparation for the event.
Eleven of Whitman’s international students are Davis UWC scholars.
‘The UWC students carry with them values that include environmentalism, volunteerism, and the big one – world peace,” said Jennifer Mouat, coordinator of Whitman’s Language Learning Center.
Liphoto helped organize the summit to promote these ideals and address the issue of how UWC students can incorporate them into their lives on campus.
“We have seen that a lot of Whitman students are unaware when it comes to international matters where the U.S. is not concerned,” Liphoto said. “We hope to change that through a range of activities in our respective clubs and other projects that are soon to be put into place by Whitman Davis Scholars.”
The summit ended with student organizers and participants prepared to infuse more cultural awareness into their respective campuses.
“The most rewarding thing about the experience was reviving the spirit that I can change anything; I can make the world a better place, to dream high no matter what,” Liphoto said.
Elizabeth Cole ’15