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Cherubs reach across cultures

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Angelica Pardo of Bogotá, Colombia hugs Audrey Park of Chicago, left. Photo by Carlo Vellandi

Eighty-four cherubs came to campus this summer, and not one has the same background as the others.

Cherubs from eight countries, 22 states and one territory call the East Fairchild dorms home. They add their own flavor to the recipe: their culture.

“It’s how the real world works – not everyone is going to have the same experiences, cultural context, or customs,” said Angelica Pardo of Bogotá, Colombia. “We need different perspectives. Especially with journalism, the fact that we’re so culturally diverse is so valuable.”

The cherubs said they learned about each other from simply talking. In the dining hall or on the way to class, slang from all over the world blended into one conversation.

“People use the word ‘gas’ to describe anything that is good,” said Junseo Lee of Seoul, South Korea. “We use a lot of slang at our international school, and I am definitely bringing ‘gas’ back home to my friends.”

For some, a shared piece of culture created bonds. On Friday evenings, a dozen cherubs shared Shabbat in the dorm’s piano lounge. With candles lit and Whole Foods make-shift challah bread split, they prayed and laughed about their unconventional gathering away from home. Grape juice replaced Manischewitz, of course.

“We had a great time, all while we were embracing our Jewish heritage,” said Sara Strassberg of Manhasset, New York.

For others, a diverse culture was the igniting factor.

“Where I’m from, people are very into physical touch, even with strangers,” Pardo said. “Here, when I give someone a hug, they think I’m sad. I’m not; I just want a hug!”

Pardo said her love of hugging is rubbing off on her fellow cherubs. Her friends now expect her embrace, and she hopes they’ll bring her habit home to their own friends.

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