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While many courses on campus provide students with insight into the customs and history of other cultures, some have turned to their peers to learn more. The Japanese floor and German and French houses are all living groups that bring students together with the common goal of spreading awareness and sharing information about each country.

Thuy Lan Nguyen ’07 (Hanoi, Vietnam), an economics and business major, helped develop the Japanese floor last February.

“We wanted to create an understanding and cohesive community and at the same time be able to appreciate the differences between Eastern and Western civilization,” he says.

Since then, the Japanese Floor, located in Farber Hall, has been creating activities that fit its mission of bringing together students from different backgrounds who share a common interest in Japanese culture.

The favorite activity of Ko Ko Maung ’07 (Tharkayta Yangon, Myanmar) has been a sushi party, which allowed students to learn how to make the popular cuisine.

“I like to cook, so I am interested in activities featuring food,” says Maung, a physics major.

Last fall the group held a game night, which included playing an interactive dancing game called Dance Dance Revolution, and the board games Go and Shoogie. Students also enjoyed Japanese refreshments. In November, Paul Barclay, assistant professor of history, was invited to talk about the Nanjing massacre of the 1930s.

The group has planned activities for the spring semester that include a welcome back pizza party and collaborations with the Asian Culture Association and Anime Club. Students interested in learning more or joining the club can contact Nguyen at

Located on the first floor of Keefe Hall, the German living group usually consists of eight students. Membership is open to those who speak German, are taking or have taken German classes, or are members of the German Club.

“This is my third year as a member [of the group] and my second as president,” says Nicole Kozyra ’05(Marlton, N.J.), a double major in art and English. “I decided to join because of my involvement with German courses and the German Club.”

The German house plans at least one activity per month that supports its purpose of bringing people together who have common interests in the language and culture, and continuing to expand members’ knowledge and appreciation of German.

Activities include film nights, field trips to restaurants and museums, and seasonal events such as Oktoberfest. Some activities are co-sponsored with the German Club or other living groups.

“The German house is very successful and enjoys a strong, dedicated membership,” Kozyra adds.

Also thriving in Keefe Hall is the French house.

“Our goal is to spread and nourish interest in French culture through various programs and activities both for members of the house as well as other students on campus,” says house president Ihssane Loudiyi ’07 (Rabat, Morocco).

Loudiyi decided to join the house because she always felt strongly linked to French culture and enjoys the history and literature. This is her first year as president, but she previously participated in many activities.

The house usually organizes one event per month linked to the culture, such as a cheese tasting session. This year, members hope to have most programs open to the entire campus.

“I think the concept [of living groups] in itself is really interesting and adds to the diversity of Lafayette,” Loudiyi adds.

Other students interested in starting a living group can consult the student handbook for the proper procedures. Development of a new group depends on the number of people who want to participate, adequate space on campus for the students to live together, and making sure there isn’t a similar group already formed.

“The problem that some of the students run into is that another group with the same interests already exists,” says Annette Diorio, assistant dean of students and director of student life.

Diorio says it’s also important that students forming a new group have some academic tie-in.

Students should contact Kevin Worthen, associate dean of students and director of student life administration, if they are interested in forming a new group. Proposals are due no later than Feb. 1.

Categorized in: Students