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Stories from Our Community

Greenfield Intercultural Center celebrates 40 year anniversary, reflects on history at Penn

The Greenfield Intercultural Center commemorated its 40th anniversary on Jan. 27.  

GIC was established in 1984 to support the University’s underrepresented communities and build intercultural awareness on campus. As Penn’s first intercultural center, the GIC has provided a space for numerous student affinity groups over the years – including the United Minorities Council, Natives at Penn, and the Alliance for Understanding.

The center was founded in response to a UMC petition calling for the creation of a campus center for underrepresented students. Since its inception, GIC has supported many different initiatives, programs, and communities. It was a key advocate that pushed for the University to create community hubs, such as Makuu, La Casa Latina, and PAACH.

“GIC has set a vital model for how universities can better support their students and educate society on intercultural belonging,” GIC Associate Director Kia Lor said. 

Lor added that the center has served as an “intercultural incubator of new ideas and programs” over the past four decades.

Around 2015, the GIC aided in the establishment of Penn First Plus, which has since become a community to bolster the successes of first generation and low income students.

GIC Director Valeria De Cruz spoke to the center’s platform as a guiding force for new community groups on campus. She said that the GIC team was thankful for the opportunity to mentor and be a point of consultation for students that aim to develop their passions and leadership skills. 

“As one of the oldest centers at Penn, the GIC is often sought out for expertise and guidance from newer departments and centers on best practices in building and supporting diverse communities,” De Cruz said. 

De Cruz reflected on the University’s relationship with the center, acknowledging the financial and directional support they’ve received.

“Since the GIC was established, [it has] received consistent budgetary support from the university and University Life has been instrumental in providing guidance as the center has worked to address the needs of different communities,” she said. 

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, GIC recognized local alumni who are making change in the community at an Open House Celebration on Jan. 27. In the fall, the center plans on hosting a gala to bring together alumni located nationally and globally.

De Cruz highlighted the importance of the alumni network in continuing GIC’s work. “The center benefits from generous alumni support which has enabled us to increase our visibility and extend our reach on campus, ” De Cruz said.