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The Global Learning Living Community: Back in Action

There are a number of ways that students take part in global and intercultural opportunities, whether it entails traveling abroad, engaging with their local community, or participating in a number of programmatic opportunities right here on campus.  The Global Learning Living Community, known as the “GLLC,” has been in existence for over ten years. Initially housed in Gardens Apartments, the community moved to Caldwell Apartments after it was built in 2012.  Caldwell was intentionally designed to allow for opportunities for students to gather and build community.  

The GLLC is open to sophomore, junior and senior students who are interested in exploring culture and developing intercultural skills. An optional Global Citizenship mini-course is offered to residents that want to explore leadership, the complexity of identity, and ways to be socially conscious members of our global community.  This year, the community welcomed over 70 students, half of which are from different regions of the U.S. and Puerto Rico and half from outside the U.S., including South Korea, the Netherlands, and Kuwait, among others. The diverse demographics of the community, including a number of student athletes, have allowed for both formal and informal enriching experiences, both on and off campus. 

Given the unpredictability of the last two years, the GLLC Resident Coordinator and Graduate Assistant, Karren Shaalini Gunalan, made it a priority early on to create one-on-one connections with residents and opportunities for people to form friendships.  During the early weeks of school, Karren hosted a series of outings in the local Dayton region. She also advocated for the return of the GLLC annual retreat, after a two-year hiatus, which recently took place at Possum Creek MetroPark. GLLC students explored nature and participated in community building activities that encouraged them to get to know each other on a deeper level.  As an international student that identifies with Malaysian and Indian cultures, Karren can relate to the cultural adjustment that many students face while in college.  “My journey as an international student inspires my approach to programming. Growing up in Malaysia, in such a diverse culture, I learned how to be in unity and celebrate each other's culture the way that specific culture celebrates it. My approach is to allow students to find a safe and supporting space for them to grow, live, and educate themselves and others,” she remarked.

A unique touch to this year’s programming was inviting the GLLC community to a UD Women’s Soccer game to cheer on their fellow GLLC peers: Madison Wilson, Ashley Stewart, and Maddie Crosbie, who are from Canada, and Liana Yara, who is from England but who also identifies as Colombian. UD is home to nearly 30 international student athletes, and for these Flyers from the women’s soccer team, intercultural exchange goes beyond their daily lives in the GLLC, as it even comes into play on the soccer field. Although most people think of food, language, and clothes when discussing cultural differences, for these athletes, they had an additional factor to consider: the rhythm and style of how soccer, or “football” as Liana knows it, is played in the United States. “Yeah, I think soccer-wise, sometimes the styles can be different from place to place, so that was definitely something to adjust to,” remarked Ashley. “Even just simple things like how we talk on the field can be different…I might ask for a pass differently than someone else, so I think that kind of stuff is interesting and it’s really cool to see how that all kind of blends together,” Maddie added. When reflecting on what drew them to UD, all four student athletes reflected on the friendliness of everyone they’ve met along the way. Off the field, these students have embraced the community and camaraderie that the GLLC offers them, and have enjoyed the interactions with both domestic students, and other international students. “It’s just really nice to be around other students who kind of get that feeling of being away from home,” remarked Maddie. 

Karren agrees that finding common ground is crucial to building a strong community.  “I feel good about the rest of the year, but of course I am a little nervous too (good nervous), as I have to think about other ways to engage with students. Being a first year in this role, I feel proud with how the GLLC community has turned out, and with the work my RAs and I have facilitated so far,” Karren reflected. 

To learn more about the Global Learning Living Community or collaborate on programming, email

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