OISS launches new series to ease international students into American culture

A new series by the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) will help international students “crack the codes of contemporary American culture.”

(Photo courtesy of OISS website)
(Photo courtesy of OISS website)

The series, titled “Understanding America,” launched at the start of the year and consists of four events each semester, oriented around a theme that ties them together. This semester’s theme is Yale and New Haven.

 “At universities in the United States, American worldviews naturally tend to take center stage in the classroom and other academic forums,” said Janine Stockford, a Ph.D. student in American studies and organizer of the series. “While the American character of discourse rarely announces itself, international students and scholars often hear it loud and clear. By bringing Yale’s international community together through this series, we hope to create a setting for intercultural dialogue where candid questions about American society, politics, and culture can be voiced and explored in the company of faculty experts.”

The first session on Oct. 7 featured a lecture by history professor Jay Gitlin titled “Understanding Yale.” The lecture traced Yale’s history and its role in contemporary popular culture.

The second event was a bus tour of New Haven on Oct. 29 with former New Haven mayor and current political science professor John DeStefano Jr. The tour was titled “Understanding New Haven” and included conversations about health care at Fair Haven Community Health Center and immigration at Junta for Progressive Action, a meeting with international students at the Fair Haven School, and a chance to sample food and treats throughout the city.

Students visited Radiall as part of the New Haven tour with former mayor John DeStefano (right). (Photo courtesy of Parker Emerson)
Students visited Radiall as part of the New Haven tour with former mayor John DeStefano (right). (Photo courtesy of Parker Emerson)

The third event will be a guided tour through the New Haven Green with architecture professor Alan Plattus on Nov. 18. His lecture is titled “New Haven and the American City” and will include a discussion about “architecture and urban issues in New Haven as they relate to the design and development of cities across America.”

The final event of the semester is a talk with history professor Paul Freedman on Dec. 10. Freedman will be speaking about his forthcoming book, “Ten Restaurants that Changed America,” and the globalization of American cuisine.

Stockford says around 40 students, visiting scholars, and other members of Yale’s international community attend each session. Next semester’s theme will be entertainment, with lectures on hip-hop, the casino industry, Disney, and Coney Island.

For more information and to register for upcoming Understanding America events, visit the OISS website.

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