Niche Living

 14 0304 ah fish
March 04, 2014

For Kat Dales and Philip Wright, the Nippon Ai affinity house has become a second family as they’ve spent the year planning a Japanese anime convention, doing homework together and caring for a tank of fish named after Japanese cultural figures.

They are among 50 students in the affinity housing program this year, living in college-owned houses on the edge of campus. Dales, founder and co-president of Nippon Ai, an anime and Japanese culture club, says the opportunity to live with fellow club members enables her to blend “service to self, school and community all in one.”

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(back) Mehar Segal '16, Philip Wright '15, Daniel Oster '16, (front) Alyssa Zell '14, Breyonna West '15, Kat Dales '14

As house project manager, Dales helps organize service hours at the YMCA and SERVV while working with club members to host screenings of anime, or stylized Japanese animation, and plan events at the house, such as a tea tasting and a re-creation of a typical Japanese theatre experience. The senior from New Freedom, Pa., says her leadership, teamwork and organizational skills have grown as a result.

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Senior Kat Dales is the project manager for the Nippon Ai Affinity House, which is decorated with memorabilia from Japanese anime and culture. 

Nippon Ai housemate Philip Wright of East Greenville, Pa., a junior studying Political Science and International Studies, feels so at home in the close-knit group that he plans to live in the house again next year.

Members of the Healthy Living and Sustainability affinity house find themselves in a similarly supportive environment. The group’s mission is to maintain healthy lifestyles and to be more green.

Project manager Antonia Francis of Germantown, Md., says their success stems from the team effort, from sharing healthy recipes to reminding each other to turn off the lights, and planning events that promote recycling to engaging with the campus and beyond.

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Nicole Ringel '16, member of the Healthy Living affinity house, tends to the on-campus organic garden.

“We definitely have had a lot of opportunities in the community,” said Francis, listing the Westminster Farmer’s Market, Boys and Girls Club, and campus organic garden among the club’s service contacts.

Affinity housing allows Francis to explore her passion of environmentalism while working toward graduating a year early. The sophomore Sociology major and History minor sees this experience as a way to enrich her liberal arts education.

Undergraduate students also have group-living options in a variety of other residence life programs, such as Honors housing, foreign language houses and substance-free housing, where alcohol is not permitted even for students of age.