Penn students have created a new way to foster interaction among the many diverse groups on campus: PennWorld.
The purpose of PennWorld is to link together students interested in learning about different cultures.
“Penn has a lot of culture groups but there needs to be more interaction between the social groups. We wanted to build something that can let people meet people culturally different from them easily through a very simple procedure,” said College freshman Joy Zhang, one of the founders of PennWorld.
The website, www.pennworld.com, is essentially a social networking platform that helps connect people to students of other cultures.
“Just by typing in their name, their school and their interests, [they] can meet someone completely new and learn a lot and hopefully gain some new insight on a whole different perspective,” said College senior and co-founder Chris Cruz.
Users put in their name and email address, and are then asked about which culture they are most interested in learning about. They can also include a short message to the person they will eventually be matched with. The website uses an algorithm to match people together with one another.
The user will receive the email address of their match so that they can contact them to set up a date for coffee, lunch or a day out.
“I think this website is a way for people to get out of their comfort zone and talk to people of other cultures,” said Nursing freshman John Doner, another founder of the website.
Cruz first thought of something similar to this initiative in 2011 when he was the chair of the United Minorities Council. In 2012, he decided to create PennLunch, a website that was designed to pair people up for blind lunch dates.
The website has since fallen into disuse, but Zhang was inspired enough by it to collaborate with Cruz and Doner to create this new site.
“Penn is ranked as one of the top five universities with the most diversity, yet interculturalism is a huge challenge,” said Cruz. “There are cultural groups who hang out with each other but they don’t reach out to other cultural organizations where they can learn a lot more.”
Last week, the founders launched a Google form to start the project, and based on the responses the three received, they decided to put together and launch a fully operating website.
A similar program was launched at both Harvard and Yale recently and has received positive feedback from their student bodies.
Students here seem excited about this new project.
“I would definitely be interested in participating,” said College freshman Neera Thavornvanit. “Coming from an international school, I’ve always enjoyed learning about other cultures, so a chance to do so in a casual and fun setting sounds like a great idea.”
PennWorld’s short-term goal is hopefully to reach 100 matches by the end of the semester and to have 1,000 to 2,000 matches within four years.
“The long-term goal is to change the social dynamic at Penn to be a lot more intercultural,” said Cruz. uses
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