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Collaborating with Student Clubs: Games without Borders

February 4, 2018

Like many universities and colleges across the commonwealth, Penn State Brandywine has a large international student population. We also have a large population of students for whom English is a second (or third) language, though they were born in the United States. Our Multilingual Student Programs faculty and advisors host well-attended events, trips, and lunchtime talks, and the Multicultural Club is one of the most active student groups on campus. Naturally, the library wanted to be involved with these students and their enthusiastic presence at Brandywine.

One very easy way which we found to be connected to the group involves games. A few times a semester, the Multicultural Club hosts an International Game Break, where snacks are provided and students come to play games that are popular in countries outside the United States. Some examples of the tabletop games that the Multicultural Club purchased are Go, which originated in China around 5,500 years ago, Ludo, which is from India circa 3300 BC, Xiangqi, which many are familiar with as Chinese Checkers, Machi Koro, originally designed and released in Japan, and Carrom (aka Karrom), a shuffleboard game that is popular in Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. For our international and multilingual students, these games are often a piece of home that they can share with their new friends. For our U.S. students, once they experience them at an International Game Break event, they want to play again.

The library got involved very easily by barcoding and circulating these games, after discussing the process with the Multicultural Student Club. The club needed a place to house the games when not in use, we had shelf space; they wanted a process to let students borrow them for an afternoon or overnight, we had the means to make that happen. An easy partnership between the library and the Multilingual Student Programs coordinator began. The library now also displays the games and their history around midterms and finals week, as a stress-reduction suggested activity, and a collaboration between the Multicultural Student Club and library is in the works to purchase more games for student use.

While not all campuses have the kind of population that Brandywine does, any kind of collaboration between student groups and the library benefits students, the library, and the campus as a whole. For example, students now see the library as a place not only for computers and books, but also to meet their friends to borrow a game. The library has a more active role in promoting events for the Multicultural Club and Multilingual Student Programs. Our international students see the library as a welcoming place that embraces their culture, which in turn plays a small but important part in these students feeling comfortable at Brandywine. As Brandywine Vairo Library, and university libraries everywhere, strives towards equity, diversity, and internationalism, we hope to work more with our diverse population and student clubs to promote their events and activities. 


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