More than half of the members of SP community have some international background. They either come from another country, or their parents did, or they have lived in another country for a long time. Therefore, this is a great opportunity for all of us to learn about other cultures, ways of living, and customs.
Why would we want to do this? Because: 1) It's a lot of fun and interesting 2) For those of us who will live in the U.S. this will give us a perfect training for our future career, friendships, and relationship(s) given that U.S. is a mix of different races and cultures. 3) For those of us who will go back to our home countries, this will give us a new perspective of the world that we could take with us back home.
So, we thought it would be a waste not to take advantage of this great opportunity and therefore started SPICE!
The goal of the SPICE program is to:
1) Increase the knowledge and appreciation of the SP residents for other cultures. Once this goal is met, more tolerance and openness towards other cultures will follow.
2) To create and promote strong cross-cultural bonds among the residents.
What is SPICE?
We aim to have groups of 10-12 people in each SPICE group. Everyone who wants to be involved is welcome---we will have as many groups as we can fill! Each group meets separately every other week for a dinner during which members of the groups discuss the topic of the night. Each person talks about their own experience, history, and point of view on the topic. Sometimes, a dinner may be replaced by an outing. The outing will have a cultural theme to it such as visiting a museum, eating at an ethnic restaurant, or visiting a temple depending on the group's interest.
Topics of Discussion
Each group has the freedom to decide what topics they wish to discuss through the year. Some possible topics of discussion are:
Inter-racial and cross-cultural relationships and marriages
Holidays and ways of celebrating them.
Norms and taboos
Our family histories, where we come from
Minorities in different countries, racism and discrimination
Role and position of women in the family and society
During the 2007-2008 school year, the International Mentorship Program, which started as part of orientation, proved that such a program would be successful. The International Mentorship Program consisted of a groups about 10 people who would get together biweekly at our housemasters' apartment for dinner and discussed most of the topics above throughout the year.
The program met its goals: not only did it increase the knowledge and appreciation for other cultures but also created curiosity and an urge to learn more about them. Members started reading books about other cultures and nations. They said that whenever they meet a new person from another country they start asking them questions about their holidays, norms and taboos, and many other topics they have discussed throughout the program. The program successfully created strong friendships and cross-cultural bonds. The members started hanging out outside the dinners. They also became interested in becoming more involved with the SP community. We are proud to have three of our members in the SP government this year!
Testimonials from former members
"it is one thing when you read about certain customs/traditions, and it is something completely different when you see people who actually live them in their lives." -Leonid Chindelevitch
"It really helped to get the group comfortable with each other and open up. I like how we were able to discuss a lot of different topics, and almost everyone had a different perspective." -Swati Mohan
"it truly made a difference in my stay at S&P (for the better of course)!" -Mihcael Bikard
"great program - I really enjoyed it. fantastic topics - learned a lot about Iranian, Korean, and Indian culture - really interesting topics on dating, taboos...quite memorable." -Amy Shi
"SPICE is a fun way to make new friends, have great food, and learn about different cultures! Why wouldn't you sign up?" -- Natasha Patel-Murray
Due to MIT budget cycle, the SPICE year runs from February through the following January