Discovering Countries and Cultures at UC Libraries


On November 15 UC Libraries hosted an event focused on exploring  countries and cultures. Librarians Pam Bach and Olya Hart engaged students in planning the event. During brainstorming sessions students suggested discussing the phenomenon of culture shock and sharing what surprised, puzzled, or scared them when they came to the U.S. At the suggestion of Srinivasa “Sid” Thatham, President of the Indian Students Association, we started the event with the video American culture shock for international students, which inspired a lively discussion.

Thanks to multiple advertising channels, including a Facebook page created by Yu Mao, a Chinese student, the event attracted over 50 students from China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Oman, Russia, and the United States.  After enjoying a variety of foods ranging from American cheese and Chinese eggrolls to Omani sweets, groups of students embarked on a virtual trip to a number of countries and shared what they thought people needed to know to travel successfully to those countries and minimize culture shock. Student groups facilitated by Holly Zhang, Ankita Singh, Rahma Al-Riyami, Vanessa de los Reyes, Alexa Mendez, and Darakshan Malik learned a lot of fascinating facts about countries exploring the library databases CultureGrams and Global Road Warrior and listening to students who came from or had visited the countries.

As students were sharing their discoveries, we all learned some fascinating facts about countries well beyond what one need to know for successful travel, for example:

  • Oman’s National Day (the day the King was born) is celebrated on November 18th with a parade and festivals.
  • In India parents help their children financially as long as they live.
  • The Chinese government recently announced that it will allow millions of families to have two children.
  • In Mexico most saints and holy people have specially designated feast days.
  • According to a Russian legend, the architects of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow were blinded by Ivan the Terrible to prevent them from creating such a masterpiece again.
  • There are no speed limits on German motorways.

Ankita Singh, a student from India, shared great tips on global business card etiquette she had found on the Web.

What everyone enjoyed most was meeting people and making new friends. Students stayed until the library closed at 6 PM and said they were looking forward to future opportunities to meet people, discover various student organizations, and learn more about library resources. Here at UC Libraries we also look forward to our Friday@4 gatherings next semester.

Please see snapshots of the event in the Animoto video.