POWELL, Wyo. - Amid roving Chinese dragons and virtual fireworks at a Lunar New Year Celebration Friday evening, Jan. 31, the Northwest College Foundation announced success in raising just over $480,000 to create an Intercultural Center.
Lu and John Zhang, owners of China Town restaurant in Cody, presented a $5,000 check during the celebration to take the two-year fundraising effort over the top of the amount needed to trigger matching funds.
Renovation work will begin this spring to transform a residential home adjacent to campus into a center that will house visiting international scholars and host a variety of cultural programming and topical discourses on current events and prevailing political thought.
The Intercultural Center will also provide a gathering spot for international and minority students attending Northwest College.
“There’s a reason,” NWC President Stefani Hicswa said, “the National Endowment for the Humanities called this a model project for rural communities. For many years, Northwest has been the hinge that opens the world’s door to our local communities through wonderful opportunities to interact and learn from our international students. We’ve brought in scholars from around the world and at the same time regularly send students and area residents to travel the globe through our popular field studies classes.
“With such a broad sampling of diverse religions, cultures and populations concentrated in one place, Northwest is in an ideal position to foster global understanding in a somewhat isolated area of the West. Our international focus is an important part of NWC’s strategic plan. We were missing only a dedicated physical space to take our intercultural efforts to the next level.”
Fundraising for the center was launched in August 2011 when the National Endowment for the Humanities granted a $131,000 challenge grant for the project. To trigger the gift, the NWC Foundation needed to raise $262,000, a $2 match for every NEH grant dollar. Additional nonmatched contributions will add additional value to the project.
Like the diverse population the center will someday serve, support for the project was generated by a divergent group of individuals and organizations united by their desire to advance Northwest’s vision of creating global understanding at home.
Northwest College students themselves are a part of that group, contributing $25,000 to the center through Student Senate action.
Other major donors include: Kay Copenhaver, Powell BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services), Christ Episcopal Church, HI-Q Technology, Inc., Lenox D. Jr. and Frances W. Baker Foundation, Jim Nielson, Anne Young and the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund.
NWC Foundation Executive Director Shelby Wetzel said, “Much of the support we receive goes directly to benefit NWC students through things like scholarships, technology and facilities improvement. While the Intercultural Center will affect students in a very direct way, it is also an incredible gift to the larger community. We invite everyone to enjoy the unique opportunities the center will offer to experience right here in Powell the tastes, smells, sounds, traditions, politics and rituals from around the world.”
As remodeling work gets underway on the house, NWC will begin developing programmatic components to bring the center online for the fall semester.