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Everyone in Darte Hall knew my set of house rules. Number tokens are applied to the board randomly, twos and twelves are equal, and your turn is forfeited if you roll the die outside of the box lid. The game The Settlers of Catan has become a convenient metaphor for the residents I mentored during my time as a Residential Advisor. In my dorm at Wyoming Seminary, a small, independent school in northeast Pennsylvania, each of my dormmates were newcomers to American culture, and they were here to do their best to thrive.
Cooperation and trading is essential to “settling” Catan. It did not take me long to observe that my domestic and foreign students did not mix as often as I had hoped. I could empathize with international freshmen who were being far from home and trying to navigate a new culture. That was actually what prompted me to start our “Catan nights”. I wanted to provide my residents a common interest and hobby that would unite them. It was not exactly a “hard sell,” and my plan worked, but perhaps a little too well.
“Can I borrow the board for an hour?” I would hear on a random Tuesday night. What I had hoped to reserve as a monthly tradition became almost a daily pursuit for some of my residents. Despite my unintended...
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