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Brian D. Slavenas Center for Cross-Cultural Understanding

Brian D. Slavenas Cross-Cultural Center for Understanding

In 2009 the Brian D. Slavenas Cross-Cultural Center for Understanding (CCCU) was established.

Brian D. Slavenas was born in DeKalb on December 19, 1972. He graduated from DeKalb high school in 1991, after which he served in the Army Airborne in Italy for two years. While getting his degree at UIUC in industrial engineering, he also pursued a pilot’s license, a flight instructor’s license, a commercial aircraft license, and taught flight.

Brian practiced three principles: don’t hurry, always put yourself in the other person’s place, and think before speaking or acting.

On November 2, 2003, the Chinook 47 helicopter Brian was piloting was hit by a shoulder fired, heat seeking missile while flying over Fallujah, Iraq. The flight engineer survived the crash, and he said Brian’s last words were, “Automatic rotate,” which put the helicopter into emergency mode. While both pilots and fourteen others were killed, twenty of the 36 people on board survived.

Thanks to the generous contribution by an anonymous donor, we have the chance to provide a wide variety of truly global perspectives through the CCCU. The collection is housed in the Adult Services Department on the main level of the library and currently contains around 400 books, CDs, and DVDs pertaining to history, travel, social and economic issues, military, and global conflicts. It has both memoirs and biographies available. The CCCU also provides two databases for patrons: African American History Online and American Indian History Online. The library is committed to building the collection from this foundation, making use of partnerships, suggestions and donations from the public.

The library hosts an annual event titled “8 Countries in 1 Day” with funds from the CCCU. This event is entirely FREE and open to all members of the public. It provides our patrons with an opportunity to experience the culture, sample the food, and learn about eight countries from around the world. In 2017, “8 Countries in 1 Day” was held in September and October and was attended by over 600 people between the two days. We had Polish dancers, Henna art, Swedish meatballs, Indonesian martial arts, and much more. Participants who visited each country, housed at various locations throughout the library, were entered into a raffle to win prizes. We also hosted a raffle that could be entered by bringing in canned food or cash. We gave away over 25 prizes which included a light-up globe that showed the constellations, various flags for the countries represented, a tote bag full of goodies, and a Moroccan hat among others.

The library has partnered with many other community entities to make this event a success: NIU Latino Resource Center, NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies, NIU Center for Black Studies, Kishwaukee College, First Lutheran Church, and ELS Language Center.

Visit the CCCU today and check out reading material and audio books, or pick up a brochure detailing what we have to offer!

If you have suggestions for titles of books, audio books, DVDs, or other media that you feel would fit with this special collection, or would like to donate, contact our Reference Department at with Cross-Cultural Center in the subject line.