GetReConnected

September 2019


     

Linda Zheng

Linda Zheng (second from right) and members of UR Global at a dance party held in First Street Towers.  

Student Profile

Making an Impact Through UR Global

For many students who hail from different parts of the globe, the first time they set foot on Purdue’s campus is the first time they have ever visited the United States. That was the case for Linda Zheng, a senior from Guam. 

“Freshman year was my first time stepping foot on the mainland,” says Zheng. “Prior to that, I had never been to the United States. It wasn’t a huge culture shock for me just because Guam is a U.S. territory and we still have cultural influences back there.”

Though Zheng didn’t experience a major cultural adjustment, that isn’t always the case for students attending Purdue from other nations and even US territories. For these students, UR Global is an organization that can help in their transition to life on campus. UR Global exists to provide support and encouragement for international students as they transition to life at Purdue. While UR Global events are catered to first-year international students, the organization is also open to students of other backgrounds who want to meet new people, learn about different cultures and have a great time.

Zheng, the president of UR Global, was introduced to UR Global by a friend she had attended high school with who now attends Purdue. The two attended a free concert and the introduction to the people involved, Zheng says, made her feel welcome.

“I was able to get to know people on my floor and that really helped build a sense of friendship and community there,” said Zheng. “I found UR Global and that made me feel even more connected to Purdue because that gave me a lot of opportunities.”

Zheng became a part of UR Global during the second semester of her freshman year. At first, Zheng just attended meetings and events because they were fun. Since then, she's become more active, more outspoken during meetings and served as vice-president before rising to the president position.

“I think starting to put my opinion out there during group meetings made me feel more validated because people really appreciated what I had to say and they sometimes agreed,” says Zheng. “I think just feeling valid really made me want to rise up even more.”

As president, Zheng leads the planning of events and helps to make sure students involved in UR Global are connected to resources they need. Educating students on which campus organizations can help with situations they may be facing, helping them connect to other multicultural groups and providing a network for them to make friends with other students from around the world all factor in to Zheng’s efforts.

One of the signature ways UR Global students connect with each other is at events spaced throughout the school year. A cookout at the beginning of the year, dance parties, trips to local state parks and other attractions in the Midwest, bowling, ice skating, community service, holiday gatherings and attending Purdue athletic events as a group are some of the events students can participate in. A recent dance party, Zheng says, was a particularly popular and successful event.

“It was fun and it made me want to do more things like that and just make our events more successful,” says Zheng. “A successful event to me is one where our international students are having a good time and we’re providing the resources that they need to do the things that they do.”

One of the challenges Zheng says she has faced is trying to fit in while having a multicultural background that includes her Asian heritage as well as American culture. She says being a part of UR Global has helped her connect with peers in a way that resonates with who she is.

“With the things I know about the Chinese culture and the Asian culture, I can connect with a lot of students that are in the club,” says Zheng. “Now that they have acclimated to the American culture a bit, they also understand that side of who I am.”

Readers can learn more about UR Global by visiting the organization’s website and stay up to date on the latest events by visiting their Facebook page.


       Wiley RAs

Three Wiley resident assistants who have lived and worked in room 134. From left: Mustafa Jamal (2001-02), Mitushi Mukherjee (2019) and John Davis (1985-87). 

Alumni Profile

Former Wiley Residential Staff Members Reunite

A group of former Wiley Residence Hall residence assistants, residence hall counselors and staff residents recently reunited for a weekend of fellowship.

The reunion brought together student residential staff who served in Wiley between the mid-1980s and mid-2000s. The reunion was inspired in large part by Chad Johnson, who was building manager at Wiley Hall for 16 years, and Denton Sederquist, who was a resident assistant under Johnson during the 1990s. The word went out to former contacts and through a Facebook group of Wiley resident assistants, with 20 individuals journeying back to campus for the weekend.

The reunion sparked the memories of those in attendance, dating back to when their time as students.

“I knew nothing about Wiley Hall, but felt that I fit in right away,” says David Frederick. “There was great comradery among the RAs, which was a great support network to have. Managing through a number of crises and major life events for residents really brought us all together. Looking back, this was my first real leadership role that shaped my approach to leading teams, dealing with adversity and developing people.”

Sharing in the experiences of his residents sticks out among many memories for Mustafa Jamal (MS ’05). He recalls being a part of his floor’s intramural basketball team and playing deep into the intramural tournament. A year later, a few of his teammates moved on to Hilltop Apartments and played on a team that reached the intramural championship in Mackey Arena. He says being able to witness such an experience for his former residents is one of many memories that sticks out.

“My residents gave me so many amazing memories,” says Jamal. “I can see a mosaic of all their faces and along with those faces, the different personalities, talents and convictions that it was a privilege to get to know, mentor and assist. These were complex individuals with diverse histories embarking on perhaps the most transformational journey of their lives. Getting to accompany them for a bit at the onset of that journey was such a gift.”

Tim Brummett, who served as a staff resident from Fall 1992 to Spring 1995, recalls the joy he took in helping students navigate their time on campus.

“I really enjoyed meeting and talking with so many of the new students every year and doing what I could to help them acclimate to college life,” says Brummett. “I loved getting to know people from all over the country and many parts of the world and learning about them and what they wanted to do with their lives. It was wonderful getting to know so many bright, interesting young people at the beginning of their adult lives, full of hope and excitement for the future.”

Activities during the reunion included a gathering at Lafayette Brewing Company, a round of golf at Kampen Golf Course and a Sunday brunch. Some members of the reunion gathered for dinner Friday night and attended Purdue football’s home-opener victory over Vanderbilt.

With a such a large range in the dates of attendance of individuals involved, the reunion also offered opportunities for those whose time at Wiley did not overlap to network and get to know each other.

“I did not do a great job of keeping in touch with my RA colleagues after graduation, so it was a great opportunity to see two close friends that I had not seen in almost three decades,” says Frederick. “In addition, it was great to meet other RAs from different eras who went through all of the same experiences. There was an easy connection with people who shared the same Wiley background and had the same pride in Wiley and the residence hall system.”

Those in attendance at the reunion also had the opportunity to meet current Wiley RAs and interact with students. Attendees say they would offer similar pieces of advice to current students living in the residence halls – to get to know their fellow residents, to be open-minded, take advantage of opportunities to be involved in residence hall organizations, appreciate the unique bond that comes from living in such a community and to stay connected with the people who make a difference in their lives.

“The best feeling ever is when of the guys tells me that I made a difference in their life,” says Johnson. “Everyone should tell someone that.”

Johnson says he hopes the first reunion will spark a larger interest in reunited more former members of Wiley Hall residential staff. He says another reunion will take place in Fall 2020 during the weekend of the first home football game, scheduled for September 12.