The Fellowship for Building Intercultural Communities (FBIC) was created by Janice Dow, Brian Kroener, Jeremy Levenson, Timothy Pian, and Gerardo Melendez-Torres in 2009 at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) with the idea to get freshman and sophomores from diverse backgrounds to speak with each other and engage others, and to explore interculturalism through personal introspection and dialogue. The original FBIC program ran from 2009-2011.
In 2012, Joyce Kim took part in the Penn Program for Public Service, a summer program hosted by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, Penn’s primary vehicle for long-term community engagement with the local community. As part of the program, she participated in a 12-week internship where she was an assistant team teacher at a high school in West Philadelphia along with an Academically-Based Community Service seminar (URBS 178: Faculty-Student Collaborative Action Seminar in University-Community-School Partnerships and Healthy Urban Communities). Based on her experience, she saw a critical need for intercultural dialogue as 1) a means of gaining cultural competence on behalf of Penn students who civically engaged within the West Philadelphia community 2) a valuable skill for students in West Philadelphia to have for their later lives. As a result of this course, she saw a way to work with past FBIC fellows to reconceptualize and revive FBIC for the future.
Joyce Kim, Lakshmi Sivaguru, and Lisa Doi reconceptualized FBIC to incorporate civic engagement with the intercultural dialogue component and brought it back for its new form in the 2012-2013 school year. FBIC was also the recipient of the Kathryn W. Davis Projects for Peace Fellowship, a $10,000 grant to ensure to bolster and ensure the sustainability of FBIC.
Moving forward, FBIC will continue to promote the cross-section of intercultural dialogue and civic engagement both within and outside the Penn community.