Let's be friends

By Mari Mejia

America plus the metric system equals . Ametrica? While the U.S. may not be switching over from inches to meters just yet, minor cultural differences such as this can often be reflective of larger divisions between Macalester students. Acknowledging this pressing issue, members of International Student Programs created Ametrica as a way to cultivate stronger relationships between international and domestic students.Ametrica arose out of a series of brainstorming sessions held this past summer by ISP Director Aaron Colhapp and students involved with ISP. During the sessions the group discussed a lack of participation among domestic students in ISP and coordinated events aimed at getting them more interested.

“Though domestics have always been invited to trips and programs,” Colhapp said, “it seems bleeding apparent from discussions with domestics that even if that is the [ISP’s] intention, the impression is they don’t realize this and/or feel insecure [about] being a minority population at the functions.”

Taking these sentiments into account, the group sought to find an appealing “label” or “stamp” that would entice domestic students to attend events and consequentially break down the barriers that prevented more interaction between domestic and international students.

“We began listing and reflecting on similarities, differences and adjustment concepts [the ISP] hears about annually,” Colhapp said. “As we were playing with conversions, I said something like, ‘This is one clear difference between the internationals and domestics. I wish we could find some name to bring everyone together through the metric system.'” And thus Ametrica was born.

The organization has already started hosting events to foster more cultural exchanges between domestic and international students by kicking off the school year with a barbeque at the International Center.

In addition, on Sept. 7 Ametrica sponsored a Minneapolis photo contest. Students who participated were given a list of words, including globalization, liberal, squirrel, and weirdo, and were asked to take a photo that best represented each concept. Teams on the photo hunt had to include both international and domestic students. As a result, students not only had the opportunity to explore the Twin Cities but also to appreciate some of the cultural similarities and differences between domestic and international students, all while having fun and forming friendships.

Students who missed out on the photo contest will have other opportunities to participate in Ametrica sponsored events this semester, including outings to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Orchestra Hall, and the St. Paul Art Crawl.