Thank you for making the difference

Thanks to everyone who contributed to Global Connections during the Centre Gives campaign. This was our first involvement in this activity of the Centre Foundation. In the two days of this big giving event, 22 people made donations totaling $845. In addition, GC qualified for a Last Chance prize of $250. The actual final amount of the award will be announced in June. The funds will help us expand our outreach, provide a welcoming environment for international visitors, and foster mutual understanding and respect.

Message from the President – Giving Back

In the spirit of Centre Gives, we in Global Connections should develop programs that give back to the community. Not having a paid staff, the initiative for such actions falls on the members. We need people to think creatively about projects that could be developed and to be willing to turn an idea into a reality. Are there people in the community who need help? Do we have talents we could offer in support of others?

As an example, the State College Area School District approached us seeking an Arabic speaker to provide a translation of a school form to use with Arabic-speaking parents. We were able to help. An international visitor needs to build her confidence in English. We are helping her. A local service organization asked if GC could find out what an Iranian senior citizen’s needs were. We responded.

What if an international visitor needs temporary accommodation? Do we have the resources in our membership to be of assistance? Is there a newcomer in our area who is seeking to break out of her isolation and meet people? I encourage our members to not only bring to our attention individual in need but also help us develop solutions that enhance GC’s community outreach.

Bob Persiko 

President of Global Connections


Cultural luncheon shows Brazil

Good food, good music, and good conversation. This was the recipe for the successful Brazilian luncheon. The event promoted by Global Connections got around 30 people from different nationalities together, on May 5th, at Saint Andrews Church. The cultural luncheons are an initiative to enrich cultural understanding.

Feijoada, a traditional (and delicious) dish from the Brazilian cuisine made with beans, was served by the Brazilian Munchies. They also served rice, farofa and, for dessert, a brigadeiro. Bruce Truitt, Global Connections member, played and sang Brazilian music during the event.

Marco Damasceno, Brazilian Global Connections member, did a beautiful presentation introducing how big and amazing Brazil is. He showed the differences between all the five regions of the country and cultural aspects of each one.  

The event couldn’t be the same without all volunteers who helped plan, prepare the place, serve the meals and clean everything. Our special appreciation to all of you who made this cultural luncheon become true. We are also thankful to to Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church for opening its doors for us.

Check photos on our Facebook page. 

Qian Zhang tells about her path in the USA

There is a famous quote by Pliny the Elder that says: “home is where the heart is”. Qian Zhang can prove it. Born in Wuhan, China, she crossed the world to study in the USA ten years ago. Now she is a successful young woman living in State College.

Qian came to the USA for the first time in 2009, when she was still a college student to participate in a Model United Nations Competition in New York. After her graduation she worked for two years in Beijing. Then she decided to move to the USA for a master’s degree and, in her own words, also an adventure in a foreign land”! “I am glad I decided to do that. I met my husband, the love of my life, found my way into a fulfilling (even though challenging) career, and met so many wonderful friends!”

When she remembers the beginning of her life living abroad, she says that her first impression of New York was very different from her first impression of State College. “New York in 2009 reminded me of Beijing, but with even more billboards and skyscrapers. Very interesting! My first impression of State College is – it is beautiful! As a person who always lived in big cities, I felt intrigued by all the nature and cute houses surrounding us. There are also deers, groundhogs, squirrels… It’s a very lovely place to live.”

Her path in the USA was not only surrounded by good feelings. For some time she felt lonely. “I did not have a lot of friends in State College when I first came here. Even though I had coworkers and my husband, there was still something missing in my life. Later, I started my group, the Culture Exchange Group, in order to welcome friends of different backgrounds. I slowly got a chance to meet so many wonderful friends! I also enjoyed collaborations with Global Connections. Through the collaboration, I built even more connections and found more lovely people. I feel very grateful for that.” Now she is feeling at home. “I feel home is a place where we build our career and family. It can be anywhere we chose it to be.”

About her collaborations with Global Connections, she remembers that she met the organization in a seminar, where she also met her friend Hilary. “She was hosting an international women’s book club for Global Connections. I thought that was very interesting, so I joined her and enjoyed a wonderful session.” Now Qian coordinates the Cultural Exchange Group and sees with good eyes the collaboration with Global Connections. “I really enjoyed that! It helped me get to know more interesting people and also build a more connected community! I really enjoyed all the collaborations between Culture Exchange Group and Global Connections! Both groups look for ways to create a loving environment for people of different backgrounds. It is so wonderful!”

New beginnings for Sabrina and Maryam

Sabrina Lima and Maryam Barzegar, who also serve on the Executive Committee, are moving away from State College. Maryam will move to New York, where her husband has been awarded a post doc position at Columbia University. Sabrina is going to Nashville, where her husband will teach architecture and be head of the digital fabrication lab at Belmont University. 

Maryam wrote about what GC has meant to her in the following words: “Global Connections is my first home here and I feel connected to that. Last year before joining the discussion group, I was so depressed and felt alone. I didn’t have motivation to go out even for a walk, because I was thinking I don’t belong here. But yesterday (June 4) I had so many friends to have a picnic with and spend time with, and it’s all because of you and your efforts to make a friendly welcoming environment for new people in the group.”

Sabrina also told a little bit about her involvement with GC: “I arrived with my family in State College in 2020. Only two months later, the pandemic started. The world took a completely different way. At that point, we had to lock ourselves at home to keep safe. Mother of two children and full of uncertainty, I feared for our future. I was worried about our health. I also was worried about our mental health. I was already starting to get involved with Global Connections when the pandemic (and the lockdown) started. At that moment I imagined that I wouldn’t be able to study and meet new people. But it didn’t happen. Despite all the craziness of the situation, Global Connections kept working. They moved some activities to a virtual area. In a short time I was taking part in book groups, English classes and a discussion group. More than helping me to improve my English skills, Global Connections made me feel part of something bigger. They gave me good friends, helped me to engage myself in this amazing community and also to be ready to face new challenges. I truly appreciate all Global Connections helped me to achieve. The circumstances were not the best, but GC’s volunteers never gave up. This is an amazing project. Long live Global Connections.” 

Sabrina and Maryam, we appreciate all your efforts for Global Connections. We wish you all the best in this new moment of your lives.

Help Global Connections on Centre Gives 2022

Centre Gives is just around the corner. The biggest annual donation event in Centre County will happen on May 10 and 11. The 2022 edition has a new and special participant: Global Connections. Our goal is to raise $2,000. The money will be used to strengthen our finances and expand program offerings.

Our activities include free classes to learn English as a Second Language (ESL), book clubs, cultural luncheons, a discussion group, poetry readings, and informal cultural, educational, and exchange activities and interactions. Also, with the fund GC will be able to help people in need in the community.

Another important goal during Centre Gives is to spread the word about the work Global Connections does. It is important to emphasize that no money would go to administrative costs. Our mission is to foster meaningful relationships through service, education, and partnership. Click here to check our profile:

Do you know Centre Gives?

Centre Gives is an annual 36-hour online giving event designed to encourage community giving and to support the great work of Centre County nonprofits. The 2022 edition will start at 9 am on Tuesday, May 10, and end at 9 pm on Wednesday, May 11. During Centre Gives, donors may visit to make secure donations to their favorite local nonprofit organizations. Your gift could also help qualify your favorite nonprofits to win additional cash prizes! This community event is hosted by Centre Foundation and supported by our community impact funds and partnerships with local businesses.

Stay tuned for additional details.