Students and Alums Reflect on Intercultural Experiences in New Journal

Veronica Brown ’17

Contributing Writer

The new online journal Global Impressions aims to create a place for both current Smith students and Smith alumnae to share short, nonfiction essays in which they reflect on “what living in a culturally and linguistically diverse world means today.” The journal will publish two issues a year, each centered around a different theme, in addition to an annual special issue based on the Lewis Global Studies Center’s International Photo Contest. The four student editors founded the journal with the help of the Global Studies Center, two alumna editors and a faculty advisor, French Professor Janie Vanpée.

The journal grew out of Vanpée’s work with the global STRIDE program. The small group of students in the program work together on a series of projects during the year before parting ways to participate in different study abroad opportunities over the summer. Vanpée has always encouraged her students to keep a diary about their study abroad experience, but she recently decided to turn the idea into a communal blog. She and the students found the blog to be a very positive experience and thought it helped them make the most of their travel impressions. The blog made Vanpée realize that the entire Smith community could contribute to a similar forum for global reflections.

The first issue, which comes out later this spring, will showcase the work from the Global Studies Center’s International Photo Contest. The photographers will expand the short paragraphs included with their submissions into essays about the experiences represented by their photographs. Each subsequent issue will have a theme that ties together all the essays. Although the first theme has not been decided upon, some example topics the creators give are food, landscape, identity, communication and gender. In addition to the original nonfiction essays, each issue will include a piece from the archives, reflecting Smith’s long tradition of global involvement.

Current students Katie Paulson-Smith ’14, Annecca Smith ’15, Bailey O’Connor ’16, and Sarah Liggera ’17 act as the journal’s chief editors. Paulson-Smith, a senior, studied abroad in Tanzania and Switzerland, and the idea of Global Impressions resonated with her because of not only her own experiences but also those of her friends, many of whom have “studied abroad and have had fascinating encounters and stories to tell from their experiences.”

Paulson-Smith added that an important part of Smith’s global involvement is that it leaves students “feeling inspired and equipped to go on more of these kinds of global adventures beyond Smith.” This idea of continual global learning led to the decision to make Global Impressions open to student and alumna submissions. Laura Itzkowitz ’09 and Margaret Barthel ’13 act as the journal’s two alumna editors. Itzkowitz has experience in online publication, working as the managing editor of Untapped Cities, a blog dedicated to helping New Yorkers rediscover their city. She is excited about alumna involvement in Global Impressions and has “found that as a Smith alum, you leave but you still have an amazing community of Smithies all around.” Alumnae can reflect on their intercultural experiences during their time at Smith and after graduation. The editorial board hopes the journal will foster the sense of global community between students and alumnae.

        Global Impressions welcomes submissions from any Smith students or alumnae. Writers do not have to be international students or studying abroad, or even to have ever left the country, as all sorts of intercultural experiences may apply to the journal’s themes. Visit http://sophia.smith.edu/blog/impressions/ to see the forthcoming issue or to submit a piece.

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