How a university house fostered global diversity and community for students

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All of the early years of the Huntsman program live at Kings Court English College House.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Bringing together a group of students with diverse interests in languages ​​and cultures from around the world, the third floor of Kings Court English College House, tucked away on the edge of campus, is a hub of global diversity on campus.

The third floor of Kings Court English College House is the residence for all of the early years of the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. Students in the Huntsman program earn two degrees: one in a “target” language and area studies from the College of Arts and Sciences, and one in economics from the Wharton School. With the exception of those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, all of Huntsman’s students study abroad for a semester where they can apply their language skills and area studies training.

Huntsman second year student Julie Espinal is originally from El Salvador and has French as a target language. While the pandemic prevented Espinal and other Huntsman freshmen from living on the same floor last semester, they could still live at Kings Court English College House on multiple floors.

Espinal said living at Kings Court English College House was a rewarding experience, recalling that she was able to practice French with several native speakers in the dormitory.

“It’s good that in the program itself you have people who are native speakers of the language you are targeting,” Espinal said. “I also really enjoyed the exposure to many different cultures. I learned so much about the customs of the people and the way of life at home.

Espinal said he met students from countries such as Azerbaijan, Mexico, Peru and the United Kingdom. She also remembered celebrating Chinese New Year with her Huntsman peers at Dim Sum House, and then playing traditional Chinese New Year games in the dormitory.

Second-year hunting student Tracy Zhang also found the diversity of nationalities and the accessibility of practicing her target language, Korean, to be a unique aspect of life at Kings Court English College House.

“I am super passionate about learning different languages,” said Zhang. “So I think I enjoyed that, and it’s not something that I really get on a regular basis right now, as I no longer live at Kings Court English College House.”

While not known for its social life like the Quad or its newly renovated facilities like Hill College House, Kings Court English College House is what the early years of the Huntsman program called their home away from home.

“Part of the appeal of the Huntsman program was being able to have a strong group of friends as I walked around campus,” said Gabriela Garity, a sophomore at Huntsman. “It was definitely conducive to a tight community, and I became a close friend with people I certainly wouldn’t have had otherwise if I had just lived in the Quad.”

Although Huntsman first year Alexander Zhou was initially “disappointed” that he did not live in the Quad, he said living at Kings Court English College House had “exceeded his highest expectations”.

“Usually our doors are always open, and we’re just sort of in and out of each other’s room, hanging out,” Zhou said. “Or if we want to go downtown, then we’ll go together. I feel like we are a great group of friends.

Zhou added that he may feel comfortable knowing that there is still a community for him at Kings Court English College House, but acknowledged that one downside to College House is that the dormitory, located in 36th and Sansom streets, is further from the center of the campus than the other College Houses.

“This can be a problem sometimes, especially if I’m late for a class,” Zhou said.

But due to the dormitory’s slightly remote location, Zhou found it conducive to a tight-knit and collaborative community where students can easily befriend each other.

Garity added that Kings Court English College House has amenities such as a game room with ping pong tables, a cinema room, a library and a dining room which reopened this semester. There is also an outside courtyard with a pond and foliage, where Garity said she enjoys studying.

“I think overall it’s a unique experience that pretty much no other program, or at least that I know of, has,” Zhang said.


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