Real World Geneseo brings larger issues to forefront

Real World Geneseo, a new program that will appear next semester, will offer a select group of Geneseo students a truly unique experience through the confrontation of issues such as race, class and gender.

In January 2010, 40 Geneseo students will make their way to a four-day retreat in downtown Rochester. This select group of students will be the first to ever participate in this new program.

Real World Geneseo is modeled after a program called Anytown, started by the National Conference for Community and Justice. Anytown gathered high school students together in a closed setting to discuss issues of diversity.

Similar projects have sprouted up in numerous places, including Geneseo. Senior Malissa Rivera explained that the goal of Anytown was "to allow students to experience diversity and to get them more involved," which is exactly what Real World Geneseo aims to do.

Junior Adele Costa said that Real World Geneseo would "be similar to both Anytown and 'The Real World,' shown on MTV."

Delegates will spend four days together in the Strathallan Hotel, located in downtown Rochester, N.Y., exploring and discussing diversity. Four delegates will be put into each hotel room and all the hotel rooms will be located on the same floor to allow continued interaction throughout the day. Participants will also be allowed to tape video diaries to track their progress throughout the four-day experience.

Sophomore Nick LaGrassa said he was attracted to the Real World Geneseo program because he felt that it was "getting across a message of diversity while using a 'Real World' aspect."

Forty applicants will be chosen based on how they will enlarge the spectrum of diversity for the program. In addition to the retreat, each delegate will register for one of 10 designated courses in spring 2010 and participate in a reflective lab, discussing how the course related to the experiences they had during the four-day stay at the hotel.

Fatima Johnson, coordinator of Multicultural Programs and Services at Geneseo, has experience with this type of program in other places. "I have been through the program 12 times and every time it changed me," Johnson said.

She emphasized that the goal for Real World Geneseo is to "challenge the hearts and minds of young people." Johnson said she hopes that the program will make every individual that participated think, "When I go back to campus, I know I'll see things differently."