By Katie Ellington, News Editor

For eight years, the Cross-Cultural Experience credit has been a requirement for all undergraduate students at Asbury University. Few changes have been made to the program since its beginnings in 2007; however, the program will be officially re-launched on September 15, with a new name and new requirements including a pre-trip orientation program.  The orientation will be required of all incoming students as well as current students who have not yet completed their cross-cultural requirement.

These changes are the result of a re-structuring of the Office of Cross-Cultural Experience, which became the Global Engagement Office (GEO) last January.

The course name will be changed from “Cross-Cultural Experience” to “Cross Cultural Engagement” (academic requirement CCE 037), said Tina Wei Smith, director of GEO and former Cross-Cultural Experience Coordinator. Smith says the word “engagement” better reflects the over-all purpose behind the creation of GEO: preparing students not only to experience a different culture, but to embrace it and see it from an alternate point-of-view.

The free orientation will be a one-night event held multiple times each semester.  It will include “Cultural Analysis Toolkit Presentation” and a self-assessment profile, according to GEO’s webpage. Like in the past, students will still have to submit a proposal detailing their travel plans and proving that those plans will fulfill CCE 037 requirements, take online assessments before and after their trip and complete a reflection paper.

Smith says her goals for the orientation are that it will provide students with the skills they need to be culturally sensitive, be able to serve Christ around the globe and reduce the sense of culture shock students may experience, a responsibility that was often difficult to carry out under the old system.

“In the past, I think most students prepared to dive into other cultures through sources outside of Asbury,” said senior Sarah Christian Choate, who traveled to a Native American camp in Arizona for her CCE. “I think this workshop will provide a very good opportunity for students.”

“I think it’s a good idea,” agreed senior Alexa Goins, who left for France on Wednesday. “I won’t get to experience the orientation, but I feel like it could be a big help to future students.”

The other major change GEO will be bringing to campus is the University’s English Language Center. Although the Center is still in the planning stages, Smith and the GEO staff hope to launch it during the Spring 2017 semester. The English Language Center will allow more international students to attend Asbury by offering English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. Incoming students who meet all admissions requirements but score a few points too low on the English proficiency exam will take these courses their first semester before beginning regular coursework.

“These students are already advanced ESL students,” explained Rosanna Willhite, who currently serves as GEO coordinator. “They just need time to adapt to the culture.”

According to Willhite, who will be teaching the Center’s ESL courses, the curriculum has been designed to help orient students to American culture, media and higher education as well as strengthen their writing, listening and speaking skills. Willhite believes that making a way for more international students to attend Asbury is a crucial part of the University’s goal to engage with other cultures.

“It’s not enough to send our students abroad so they can dissect a culture like a science project,” she explains. “We need to engage with other cultures, and that means opening your world and allowing someone else in.”