See the Nationality Rooms at Pitt decorated for the holidays |
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A natvity scene in the Austrian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. The 30 diverse cultural rooms will be part of a holiday tour on Dec. 2.

Each room is decorated for the holidays.

From wreaths hanging on windows to Christmas trees adorned with ornaments and wrapped in sparkling bright lights to nativity scenes with the baby Jesus lying in a manger.

They are dressed up for the 27th annual Nationality Rooms Program Holiday Open House from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 2 at the Cathedral of Learning on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland.

“This event re-introduces the nationality rooms to people,” says Maryann H. Sivak, assistant to the director Nationality Rooms and Intercultural exchange programs University Center for international studies University of Pittsburgh. “It shows the diversity we have here, which is even more important to embrace after what happened at Tree of Life.”

Admission is free

This tradition will feature student organization Quo Vadis presentations of the decorated Nationality Rooms, as well as traditional dance performances, foods and crafts. Close to 4,000 guests are expected.

The Nationality Rooms are located on the first and third floors of the Cathedral of Learning. Each was designed to represent the culture of various ethnic groups that settled in Allegheny County and are supported by these cultural groups and governments. Tours are conducted year round. The public is invited to experience their ethnic identity and ancestral roots. The rooms are also in use as university classrooms.

During the year, there are several ways to experience the rooms. Guided tours are available for organized groups of 10 or more people, with a reservation made in advance. Self-guided tours are applicable for the individual tourist or small group and are available only at certain times of the year, dependent on classes being in session or not. You can also tour the rooms online through pictures, video and audio.

This is the only university in the U.S. to have nationality rooms not sponsored by a company, says Sivak. These rooms represent the immigrants who brought good things to America, she says.

In a publication for the nationality rooms former Pitt chancellor Wesley W. Posvar says “More than any other single asset, the Nationality Rooms epitomize the University of Pittsburgh character by melding culture, beauty and learning. In their diversity, the rooms preserve and honor our ethnic identities. Collectively, they symbolize our national unity.”

The Nationality Rooms

University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, Oakland

The African Heritage Room

The Armenian Nationality Room

The Austrian Nationality Room

The Chinese Nationality Room

The Czechoslovak Nationality Room

The Early American Room

The English Nationality Room

The French Nationality Room

The German Nationality Room

The Greek Nationality Room

The Hungarian Nationality Room

The Indian Nationality Room

The Irish Nationality Room

The Israel Heritage Room

The Italian Nationality Room

The Japanese Nationality Room

The Korean Heritage Room

The Lithuanian Nationality Room

The Norwegian Nationality Room

The Polish Nationality Room

The Romanian Nationality Room

The Russian Nationality Room

The Scottish Nationality Room

The Swedish Nationality Room

The Swiss Nationality Room

The Syria-Lebanon Room

The Turkish Nationality Room

The Ukrainian Nationality Room

The Welsh Nationality Room

The Yugoslav Nationality Room

Coming in June 2019

The Philippine Nationality Room


Coming in June 2019

After more than 20 years of planning and fundraising, the Philippine Nationality Room is nearing completion. The space will be blessed on Dec. 1 and officially dedicated on June 9, 2019.

It is the type of architecture that originated during the Philippines’ Spanish colonial period and combines Filipino and Spanish influences, says Sivak. The basis for this design was provided by architect Popi Laudico from Manila. Waren Bulseco is the architect of record and has been involved with the creation of this room. Despite the large variations in architecture throughout the more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines, the traditional 18th-century design and decor will be immediately recognizable to anyone of Filipino heritage.

JoAnne Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062 or [email protected] or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.

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