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International Students Share Their Culture Over The Airwaves

April 9, 2002-- Music is an international language. It comes from the heart. It restores the soul. It breaks down barriers. It builds community.

Students at the University of Virginia are breaking down barriers and building community with a weekly radio show that features music from the countries and cultures of the University’s international student community.

"KISS Kulture Shock," which airs Sundays from 7-8 p.m. on WUVA 92.7 KISS FM, introduces listeners to the music and culture of international student hosts through discussions of the music, the country and the students’ interests.

Each broadcast highlights a different country. The April 7 program featured German hip-hop and techno music with Jan Mertens, a second-year student from Heidelberg. The rest of April’s lineup includes Ayush Khatri, a first-year student from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, who will play Indian and Arabic music on April 14; Cristiane Quiterio, an L.L.M. student, and Evandro Pontes, a visiting scholar in law, playing music from Brazil on April 21; Luc Castera, a second-year Haiti native, introducing the music of Haiti and the French Antilles on April 28. Ariel Pinto, engineering Ph.D. candidate, will kick off May’s programming with traditional and popular Filipino music on May 5. May’s schedule also will include music from India, France and Mexico.

"This program gives international students a mechanism to share an important part of their culture with the Charlottesville community," said Rebecca Brown, director of the International Studies Office.

"KISS Kulture Shock" is the brainchild of Carolyn Laquatra, administrative intern in the International Studies Office. As part of her internship, she was charged with starting a program that would benefit the office and continue after her six-month residency.

Laquatra believes her personal exposure to people with varied national heritage has enriched her life. She grew up in an ethnically diverse community in Pittsburgh, and she and her husband have hosted international students from high school through graduate school levels.

She sees "KISS Kulture Shock" as the perfect vehicle to enhance the programs offered to the international student body and benefit the whole community.

"I view music as the great international common factor," she said. "It is part of every culture. Rhythms, beats, harmonies may vary, but music is there at the core. I’m passionate about the music from my culture, and I was certain that there are others who felt the same as I."

William Quandt, vice provost of International Affairs, is enthusiastic about the program. "This is just the kind of program we need to help internationalize the University and build bridges between cultures," he said.

Taking the program from idea to reality was a task more easily accomplished than Laquatra thought. In early February, she proposed the idea to Mark O’Brien, a third-year biology student and volunteer director of informational programming a WUVA. He presented the idea to the station’s directors, who unanimously agreed that the proposal was unique and would benefit the international community.

"Mark has devoted numerous hours to the creation of ‘Kulture Shock,’ including spearheading all the technical and logistical aspects of the program," Laquatra said.

O’Brien said, "Working with students of all cultures has been thrilling for me personally."

Laquatra sees the program providing dual benefits to the University community and the surrounding area. "We have a large international population in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. I believe this radio program has the potential to build a stronger U.Va. community, as well as to become a vehicle to build community involvement with Charlottesville and Albemarle County."

O’Brien said numerous students have praised the show and its purpose. "That says a lot about the importance of the show. It definitely has a place in Charlottesville."

Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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