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Expansion of International Peace Garden

We are pleased to announce the expansion of the International Peace Garden at Coxe Hall. The installation will happen on Thursday, September 22nd at 2:00pm.

The garden is a symbol of the diverse cultures on Lehigh’s campus. It has enabled us to teach our International students English language skills as well as about sustainable practices and healthy eating through experiential learning. It has also promoted faculty-student interaction, community service and outreach, as well as pride and sense of community for our students.

In the summer of 2014, a Green Fund grant was approved by the Lehigh University Sustainability Committee, which funded the establishment of the International Peace Garden. Additionally, in the spring of 2015 and summer of 2016, the International Peace Garden was awarded a grant through the Council for Equity and Community at Lehigh University.  

This International Peace Garden project has been a part of the intensive English program, which provides comprehensive language and cultural training for students who will matriculate into undergraduate and graduate programs at Lehigh University.  This program is based on the principle that the integration of skills provides a natural framework for students to develop in their second language.  

Our approach has been community building through experiential learning, problem-solving, and negotiation. The incorporation of skills included writing journal reflections, writing thank you notes, creating invitations, reading about sustainable practices, recording video reflections, engaging in discussion, planning menus and preparing food using the fresh herbs and vegetables. All of these activities have fostered the building a sense of community and pragmatic awareness.

The garden project has given us opportunities to reach beyond our students in presenting at different conferences this past year. We had the opportunity to present, “Teaching English Through Environmental Education,” at the TESOL 2016 International Convention & English Language Expo in Baltimore, Maryland in April 2016. We were able to do a poster presentation, “Teaching Environmental Responsibility in an Intensive English Program Through Organic Gardening,” at the LVAIC Sustainability Conference at Lehigh University in February and the Community-Engaged Learning and Research Symposium at Lehigh University in April. These conferences provided us with the opportunity to network and learn about partnership opportunities on campus and in the community.

At the LVAIC conference we learned about an opportunity for grant funding through the Lehigh Gap Nature Center. We applied and are pleased to have been accepted. Now we are partnering with them for the expansion. (For more information about their program and funding: http://lgnc.org/research/landscaping-communities-wildlife-program/)

Drawing on the success of the garden thus far, the aim is to continue this project including establishing a more reliable and sustainable water source, with the possible incorporation of a rain barrel. Furthermore, we would like the garden to be more sustainable, so the new portion of the garden will be comprised of only native perennials. Specifically, we are adding to the area surrounding the International Peace Pole. We would like it to be an area to recognize and celebrate the richness of our campus community. In addition, it could be a place for meditation, inspiration, and reflection, reminding our students of the opportunities available to learn, serve, and grow as a community at Lehigh University.

The seeds of collaboration were sown in our small community, and we welcome the opportunity for further campus collaboration with the garden.