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Around the world in two hours

The Administration Building at USF is usually calm.

This was not the case Tuesday when students took over during the We Are The World celebration.

The building was transformed into an international plaza with the display of a variety of flags and globes. Students were also greeted with lively music and the aroma of food from various countries.

Nine offices participated in the event, which was designed to allow students to meet the University’s administration in a relaxed atmosphere and learn how each office works to improve the experience of USF students.

“We hope this will give a real welcoming and inviting feel so that students will know who we are now and will come back when they need something or we can be helpful to them,” said Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Tracy Tyree.

Some USF students have never gone to the building or met the administrators who work there every day.

Jennifer Landrigan, a senior majoring in business management, attended the event. She said that she had never met any of the administrators prior to Tuesday’s event and that she got a better idea of the functions of the offices after visiting each one.

“I have never been inside these offices before because I thought they weren’t really open to students,” said Landrigan, who added that some of the offices provided visitors with information about their duties.

The Office of the Provost and the senior vice president handed out an outline describing the function of the office and an organizational chart that tells students the names and titles of all office staff members.

Pamphlets that discussed the work performed by the people in the offices shared by Administrative Services, Government Relations and the University treasurer were given to students as they tasted tsyplionok stroganoff, a traditional Russian dish.

“The whole idea is to have students realize that it is a place of comfort. You can come here to ask questions and have assistance at any point,” said Vice President OF Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall.

New York City served as the theme for the Meningall’s office, which was decorated to resemble the city’s skyline. Staff members were dressed in red, white and blue or as the Statue of Liberty.

The Office of the Provost became Arusha, Tanzania. The staff shared the culture of the African city and asked visitors to step into a makeshift museum in a nearby conference room. Statues, books and flags were set up to educate students about Tanzania’s culture.

The Office of University President Judy Genshaft was transformed into New Delhi, India, and the staff dressed in traditional clothing from the country. The president greeted visitors with vigorous handshakes and cheerful conversation as she invited them in the office to taste the vegetable biryani that was served.

“This is what USF is all about,” Genshaft said. “We are an international university, and we wanted to celebrate that.”

The theme for Tuesday’s event was a major draw for some USF students.

“I’m really interested in the world and cultures. That was a big part of why I came,” said Marlyse Rush, a freshman planning to major in education.

Rush added that she was excited to learn about countries she has never visited and to appreciate the differences in the various cultures.

USF Dining Services provided the food served at Tuesday’s event. According to catering director Nonie Slaughter, some featured items included pastry for the Office of the General Counsel’s representation of Paris, and asado, a traditional dish from Argentina that was served in the Office of University Relations.

The We Are The World celebration was planned after the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs held a successful open house during the 2005 holiday season.

An open house in the Administration Building could become a yearly event if interest from students is strong, said Assistant Dean of Students Keri Riegler.