York students reach out and touch the world

Think it’s impossible to have the world at your feet? Well, it might be closer than you think.

On March 26, Global House, an internationally-focused community in the Pond Road Residence, held its second annual Capstone event. Capstone culminates a year’s worth of events and activities for students living in Global House.

This year’s Capstone involved a charity dinner and game show. Abbas Basravi, house council chair for Global House, said that Capstone 2008 was their most ambitious event to date. “Being our grand finale, we wanted to spread the awareness of Global House to the greater York community. Our bigger goal though, with the context of international programming in mind, was to make a difference –and I think we accomplished that by giving to charity,” he said.

The money raised through ticket sales and private donations was given to the York chapters of Free the Children (FTC) and Engineers Without Borders (EWB), two organizations with a global focus.

Global House programmer Juliana Fenner had high hopes for Capstone 2008. “We’ve been building the concept of community the whole year and because of this we could count on a great number of people to help make the event a success,” she said.

Right: Juliana Fenner

Close to 80 people came out to the dinner, saw short presentations by FTC and EWB and were supportive of the charities and the Global House initiative. Most also participated in the after-dinner game show, where teams competed to gain points by answering a variety of questions.

Teams representing FTC and EWB chose from globally-focused categories, such as “global leaders” and “global events”, challenging them to think in a global context. At the end of the night, both organizations were winners when Fenner announced that Capstone had raised $2,000, to be divided equally between FTC and EWB.

Above: Students living in the Global House floor in the Pond Road Residence participate in a game during the Capstone event on March 26. Photo by Felix Schenavsky.

The financial support that Capstone offered was not to be the only benefit. York student Austin McAuley from EWB believes that Capstone not only generated fundraising but also awareness about the organization and their aims. “Our presentation, well, that’s awareness right there. Fundraising will help outreach and of course we generate interest [through events like Capstone],” said McAuley.

FTC representative Richeson Akuffo agreed. “[Capstone] turned out to be very good in terms of the number of people attending. I believe this is a good thing to raise awareness [for our cause],” he said.

Fenner emphasized the spirit of outreach within Global House and added that the focus on charity drew people’s interest in the event. “People believed in the idea of giving back to the community, which is why we were able to exceed all expectations.”

A year in Global House is one of continuous activity. Residents join in outreach initiatives, like participating in the York Multicultural Week and the Stomp out Poverty project, and also enjoy social activities, such as international movie nights and global potlucks.

One of the main focuses of the program, however, is to encourage the idea of global citizenship. Fenner believes that it is important that today’s citizen should look at life from a global perspective. “We have different kinds of people involved in various areas. They share their perspective and knowledge with us. We, in Global House, are citizens of the world and should keep bringing international issues to the domestic level.”

Basravi summed up the Global House experience by saying “[No one] is an island and it’s that time where we have to take our skills and concerns internationally. [Global House] is great preparation for this new world.”

Story by Adrienne Miranda, a student living in Global House in the Pond Road Residence.