Sitting in a circle on the ground, a group of complete strangers from all over the world shared their thoughts and experiences on love and relationships in honor of Valentine’s Day.
The group is called C-3 or Conversation, Communication and Culture and is sponsored by the International Services Office and Multicultural Student Services Center. Members meet every week to discuss different topics related to American culture that interest international students living on campus. The club has been meeting for about five years.
“We’re here for the students. To give them a safe haven to talk about their different cultures and learn from each other,” said Joanna Karwacka Krantz, an assistant director for ISO. Krantz typically runs the meetings, which she calls “cross-cultural discussions.”
The group was organized for GW’s large international population. This semester, there are about 2,000 international students representing more than 130 countries at GW.
Discussion topics range from American holidays to job interviews to American slang. This week’s topic was love and relationships. Students from all over the world shared what is normal in their culture. The group covered questions such as: Who pays on dates? How old are people when they start dating? What about PDA?
“We do not even hold hands,” said a Japanese student. “When I first met girls here they were hugging me and I thought ‘what the hell are they doing?'”
The program is not exclusive to international students. Though there are only two American students involved this semester, American students are welcome. In fact, C-3 is trying to recruit.
“We are trying to get more American students to interact with the International kids,” Senior Alison Meuse said. “It’s a good way for us to learn about different cultures and for the international kids to learn about our culture.”
About 15 students attend the weekly meetings. Though the group is not too popular, it is a very warm, tight-knit crowd.
“There is a core group that attends all of the meetings and the outings we have,” Krantz said. “It’s a very personal support group where we can open up and learn from each other and become close to each other,” she said.
“Joanna is like our sister,” said a student from Saudi Arabia.
C-3 meets every Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the Multicultural Student Center. They also hold outings to museums, restaurants and various cultural events once a month.