As people learn about St. Lawrence Seminary, one of the most striking things many comment on is the ethnic diversity of the student body. Attracting students from across the United States, and even internationally, the demographics are incongruent for a school that is situated square in the middle of a very rural Wisconsin county. However, that diversity reflects the church as a whole and it’s a defining value of St. Lawrence. So it isn’t surprising that that diversity is honored in a student club: the International Club.
Created in 2007, it originated when Robert Draftz, a student at that time, proposed the club and went looking for a faculty sponsor. He turned to World History and U.S. History teacher Mr. Jeff Krieg. Robert’s intention for the club was to specifically study lesser-known countries across the world that weren’t always the primary focus of classwork, the news, or general discourse. And from the beginning, they planned to participate in SLS’s Cultural Heritage Festival by hosting a table that presented food and traditions from one of the countries they had studied throughout the year. Eleven years later, the International Club has highlighted over 80 countries and student interest in the topic has not waned.
Meeting once or twice a month, the student makeup of each meeting can vary, but typically at least a dozen students attend. Several student leaders, usually seniors, are selected each year to lead the meetings. This year, those students are Nathan DeLeon and Marcos Pedroza. It is their job to plan some of the presentations and help facilitate the selection process, which includes proposing five possible nations for the next meeting and then voting to choose one.
Mr. Krieg recalled one of his most memorable meetings in which all of the Korean students on campus got together to present on both North and South Korea. He remembered, “The room was filled and the guys were really excited to do it.” Having such a close connection to the nation made it an even more engaging presentation for the presenters and the club members.
But Mr. Krieg went on to explain that students are interested in the presentations regardless of the country because they are typically so diverse and different from what the students know or have experienced. The country studied often has comparably less than the United States or other developed nations, and this is an eye-opening reality for the students. Mr. Krieg explained, “The wonderful thing is the kids are finding their own information about these small countries, and it’s information that’s, ‘Oh, my gosh,’ things like their gross national product and their average income compared to the U.S.” This experience of confronting the reality of the world is a valuable one for high school students and one that the International Club helps to create for so many of them.
Among SLS’s core values is “diversity” and it is defined as “building fraternity and community by celebrating and respecting uniqueness.” That’s on display at every meeting of the International Club as St. Lawrence students get the opportunity to learn about a culture different from their own and perhaps recognize the blessings that God has given them. International Club is just one more way that SLS is able to celebrate the uniqueness of our own students and the world as a whole.
St. Lawrence Seminary is an all boys Catholic boarding school located in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin. We welcome students from Minnesota, Illinois and across the United States. Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the example of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Lawrence Seminary provides a residential college preparatory education in a living Catholic community nurturing mature, well-rounded men of faith. See if St. Lawrence is right for you and your son.