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Students Tour Urban Areas to Study Diverse Ethnic Cultures

Moving Beyond Borders Initiative Creates Dynamic Learning Experience

Bethlehem, Pa., March 30, 2005—Moravian College students are taking advantage of a unique learning opportunity. The Moving Beyond Borders program, takes students on day trips to major American cities in order to explore the history of minority cultures there. The first excursion on March 19 took students to New York City, where they learned about immigrant migration and culture. The next tour, scheduled for April 2, investigates the neighborhoods and cultures in Washington, D.C.

Twenty-three people, including three staff members and their families, took part in the New York trip. The day contained two walking tours, conducted by Big Onion Tours. Big Onion specializes in the hidden aspects of the city’s history. The morning tour featured lower Manhattan and its immigrant communities. There was an emphasis on the lives of Irish, African-American, and Jewish immigrants. One of the highlights of the program was the recently uncovered African Burial Grounds.

The afternoon took the group to Harlem, where they learned about the emigrant communities settling there. The tour guide highlighted social and political issues at the turn of the century in addition to teaching the group about gentrification and its impact on low income and established ethnic communities.

The Washington trip is headlined by visit to the American Indian Museum. The group will also take a walking and metro tour of multicultural Washington. Important stops on these tours include the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, the Banneker Monument, Chinatown, the Japanese-American Memorial, Howard University, and Neighborhood University.

Moving Beyond Borders was instituted by Sharon Brown, director of institutional diversity, and Fran Ryan, assistant professor of the History, in an effort to acquaint students with the backgrounds of American immigrants and the development of urban neighborhoods over time. Brown and Ryan say that the New York City tour accomplished these goals and more, adding that, “this lesson provided for a more dynamic experience for the students that went beyond simply book learning.” The excursions are getting good buzz among students and faculty, and they say that they have already received suggestions for the fall.