A senior graduating in global communication with five additional minors receives two prestigious college awards.
Utah State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHaSS) is excited to announce that a new building, the Mehdi Heravi Global Teaching and Learning Center, is coming to the Quad. The two-story, 37,700 square-foot building will house programs in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, including the Intensive English Language Institute (IELI) and the Master of Second Language Teaching program (MSLT). Construction on the building is set to begin in fall 2022 and is anticipated to be completed in spring 2024.
The Mehdi Heravi Global Teaching and Learning Center has been made possible by funding from the Utah State Legislature and generous private donors. The building is named for one such donor, Mehdi Heravi, who is an author, scholar, philanthropist, and CHaSS alumnus. Heravi earned his bachelor’s (1963) and master’s (1964) degrees in political science at USU and has been continually involved with the university since that time.
“My hope is that any person, especially the students, who go through this building will become a changemaker for the betterment of this society, this country, and the entire world,” Heravi said. “I hope and pray for these students that they should not talk about or predict the future but instead they should create the future for themselves, and I am sure they will be successful.”
The building will be prominently located between Ray B. West and Old Main in what is currently the purple parking lot. Architects and designers have worked hard to develop solutions to preserve as much parking space as possible in this area. Before construction begins on the building, Champ Drive will first be changed to a new, straighter design that allows easier access to the existing buildings, parking lot, and construction site for the new building. Road construction will begin immediately following graduation this spring.
Centered on Collaboration
The Mehdi Heravi Global Teaching and Learning Center is designed to create an inspiring and welcoming environment for language and international students to immerse themselves in other cultures and build relationships with one another, setting them up to graduate from USU dedicated to cross-culture peacebuilding with expanded international views.
“There has been a lot of interest in putting different groups in connection with each other,” said Rebecca Walton, CHaSS associate dean. “For example, students who are from Japan and studying here at USU and students from the United States who are studying Japanese at USU. Putting these two groups in connection with each other will allow them to work on their language and culture skills together.”
The center will include eight language labs which offer designated areas for experiential learning about cultures through music, food, holiday traditions, literature and film, and other cultural expressions, as well as to encourage students to spend more time talking to and learning from each other.
“As our economy and society in Utah grow, we are increasingly engaging in global networks,” said Joseph Ward, dean of CHaSS. “It is important that individuals have the opportunity to reflect on the global connections in their lives. The Department of World Languages and Cultures prepares students to go out into other parts of the world with confidence that they understand the cultural settings in which they are working.”
In addition to the language labs, the building’s design includes a creative technology space, a reflection room, a student break room, a large multi-purpose event room with access to a terrace overlooking Old Main and the Quad, a catering kitchen, public areas and private conference rooms for students to gather and department faculty offices.
“I think this building is such a great idea,” said Asmaa Yazidi Alaoui, international student in the MSLT program. “We can’t teach languages without teaching culture. Students in their first years do not have the chance to go abroad or have immersive cultural experiences. This will help Utah State University create a local immersion space.”
Built by the community for the community
Heravi and other donors from across the state, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, are vital partners in making the new center not just a building, but rather a site for cross-cultural connection. Funding from the Utah State Legislature shows that initiatives like this are important to the growth of the state, but it’s thanks to these generous donors that USU is able to create a place where students from around the world can truly feel at home during their time here.
For example, IELI, which will soon be housed in the building, helps ease international students’ transition to life at USU through a mix of language courses and cultural activities. Marta Halaczkiewicz, director of IELI, is passionate about making space for these students. Halaczkiewicz provided this description of an IELI student’s experience:
Many international students need English language training before they start taking courses in their fields of study. They improve their academic writing, speaking, and comprehension skills, as well as learn about American culture by taking courses in [IELI]. IELI students explore the new culture by attending campus and local events and activities. They also share their home culture with the community by organizing holiday celebrations, cuisine demonstrations and tastings, and traditional activities, thus contributing to the university's diversity. Since they spend their first semester or two in the IELI program, it becomes their home, an oasis on a foreign campus, where faculty and staff have diverse international experiences themselves and understand the students’ unique needs as language learners and newcomers to the U.S.
Creating a supportive space for these students is only one aspect of student life that faculty and architects are striving to accommodate with the new center. Donations will provide pathways for many other opportunities to positively affect the lives of students attending courses in the Department of World Languages and Cultures.
“It’s always inspiring to see so many people come together to better student experiences and success. Projects this large give ample opportunity for supporters from any walk of life to get involved,” said Justin Barton, CHaSS development officer. “We want everyone from campus, Cache Valley communities, and beyond to have an opportunity to be included in the creation of such a wonderful project.”
For building details, including information on construction progress, building design, and ways to support this project, CHaSS has created a website which will be updated along with the building’s progress. If you are interested in learning more about the Mehdi Heravi Global Teaching and Learning Center and how you can support students in cross-cultural learning, visit the website or contact Justin Barton at firstname.lastname@example.org.