Looking into the Cross-Cultural Center

Any students wishing to learn more about identities on Chapman’s campus can stop by and explore the Cross-Cultural Center. Photo by Jackie Cohen

Resilience, Hope, Respect and Perseverance: these are the words that boldly name the four rooms in the Cross-Cultural Center, each room describing a different cultural identity. The center also features a communal space complete with couches and tables directly in the middle, with two rooms on each side.

On Feb. 27, the Cross-Cultural Center opened in the third floor of Argyros Forum. According to its website, the Cross-Cultural Center is guided by “a value and respect for differences – students will learn to recognize, respect, and value diverse experiences, ideas, backgrounds, and identities.”

The center features four different conference rooms, each focused on a different cultural identity, and assigned a name based on words that represent that identity. The rooms are Resilience, for the Latinx identity; Hope, for the African-American identity; Respect, for the LGBTQIA+ identity; and Perseverance, for the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American identity.

“These themes are expected to remain in place for the center’s first two years; after that, 1–2 new themes will be rotated in each year,” according to the Chapman website. Students can book the rooms for club meetings, events or study spaces. Each room comes equipped with a flat-screen TV and an Apple TV system.

The themes for the four rooms came from students on the Cross-Cultural Center Advisory Board. The Cross-Cultural Advisory Board was a group of students who were program assistants at the Center for Global Education.

Alejandra Cortes, a sophomore mathematics major, designed the Resilience room, which is the first room on the left. The room features a timeline of Hispanic migration, specifically focusing on Mexico, on one side, and five paintings from the artist Jose Ramirez on the other.

“I saw the artist’s work at MOLAA, the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach,” Cortes said. “I really liked it, so I reached out to him.”

Cortes originally wanted one of Ramirez’s murals for the space, but said that it was too expensive.

“We had a strict budget,” Cortes said. “But I worked it out with him, and eventually got him to paint us five original pieces. The paintings all say Chapman University at the bottom of them.”

In regards to the budget, Leti Romo, assistant director of student engagement, said, “We were not given a number but rather were told to not be wasteful. In terms of the Mural both the artist and the Advisory board felt that because of the fact that the room themes would be changing every few years, we would rather have the different images that we could keep when the theme changes than a mural that would have to be painted over.”

Perseverance, the first room to the right, was designed by Farrah Su, a senior film production major.

“The room depicts the Asian struggle in the U.S.,” Su said. “This was seen through the building of Chinatowns and rebuilding period after Japanese internment camps.”

The room features contrasting photographs from the 1970’s and present day of the many cultural enclaves found in California.

“These cultural enclaves are Little India, Little Tokyo, Chinatown and Koreatown,” Su said.

The room also has three quotes from Asian-American writers on the walls. One is from poet Ocean Vuong, and states, “I am starting to think that to be an Asian-American is to build one’s own nation – within one’s body.”

Any students wishing to learn more about these identities on Chapman’s campus can stop by and explore the new Cross-Cultural Center and all that it has to offer.

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