Cultivating Global Connections
Students in the International Learning
Community at the North Miami Campus
are focused on contributing to and
experiencing American culture. Students
in the Black Student Union (BSU) are
intent on asserting themselves as an African
American community active on campus,
and making others aware of their culture
“Students in both groups are all enthusiastic;
they’re ready to try anything and
do anything. They’re very intelligent, very
motivated. They share those similarities,”
says Petas Bonaparte, instructor in the
School of Arts & Sciences on the North
Miami Campus. What the groups also have
in common is Bonaparte as club advisor.
On campus teaching English, communication
skills, composition and literature
for four years, Bonaparte recalls being in
clubs during her own student days and
their vital impact on her education. “That
interaction with other students I remember
as being a highlight of my college experience,” Bonaparte says. “I want to share my expertise.”
Bonaparte guides the nearly 45 students
in her learning community and the dozen
BSU members who meet biweekly and for
monthly outings, with characteristic high
energy and imagination. The international
group takes trips to places like colonial
Williamsburg where members can learn
about the history of America. The group
also stages an annual holiday World
Celebrations to spotlight cultural traditions.
For the BSU, Bonaparte helped organize a
highly praised presentation on the legacy
of the Black arts movement and literary
experience in New York during the 1960s.
“The contributions I make are always
based on creativity — anything that’s new
and exciting and current — and students
love that,” she notes.
Her own affections encompass the
entire campus community. “It was love at
first sight. I loved the campus, the faculty,
the energy and diversity of the students,”
Bonaparte gushes. “Interaction with students
is my reward.”
Image top: NMI instructor and club advisor Petas Bonaparte visited Williamsburg, Va., with members of the
International Learning Community for a lesson in American history.
Fundamentals with Frosting
There are areas of culinary study beyond labs and textbooks.
Unexplored novel and tangential topics are the
playground of the Providence Campus Pastry Arts Club.
Christina Harvey, instructor in the International Baking
& Pastry Institute, took over the defunct Cake Club seven
years ago, changing the focus to pastry arts. “I try to expose
students to parts of the pastry industry that they wouldn’t
get in class,” Harvey says.
Food photography, demonstrations by JWU and outside
chefs and hands-on sessions offer forums for exploration. “It
gives them an outlet if they want to create something outside
the classroom which they’re not exposed to,” she notes.
The club meets at least once a month with members dictating
direction. Field trips have included three excursions to
the Chocolate Bar in Boston, Mass., and an outing at a local
cinema for a showing of “King of Pastry.” Lectures include
discussion of trends.
“Right now the key word is sustainability — what is within
season and available whether culinary or pastry,” Harvey
says. Club members consider the texture-altering magic
of molecular gastronomy and sample gourmet chocolates
harboring complex flavors. They explore ways pastry recipes
are being shaped by dietary restrictions to offer gluten- or
Beyond the group’s educational sessions are its contributions
to community. The Pastry Arts Club bakes close to
1,000 cookies during the holidays for the university’s
Drop In & Decorate efforts. Students and staff ice the
sweets to be distributed to local food pantries, emergency
shelters, senior centers, lunch programs and other
While Harvey’s own specialty is plated desserts, in her 11
years with the institute, she’s taught every area but bread.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without Food Network
or Martha Stewart. Students are graduating from high
school knowing that they want to be a food star,” she says.
“I’m introducing pastry techniques that might spark their
interest in other avenues that students are not exposed to in
their education at JWU.”
Image above: Christina Harvey works with a student on a plated dessert.