A discussion panel on global citizenship was held on Thursday during U-Hour at the University Library.
The discussion was part of the 7th annual International Education Week and was led by CPP Political Science professor, Renford Reese.
“Students need to understand that the world doesn’t begin and end with the borders of the United States, that other people have rich cultures other people have made great contributions to civilization, and I think when we understand that we become better people,” said Reese.
Throughout the panel discussion, Reese shared his appreciation for CPP for allowing him to take the classroom outside the campus. His most memorable experience at CPP has been through the study abroad trips.
Since 2007, Reese has taken a total of seven study abroad groups overseas, two to Amsterdam, four to Ghana and one to Tanzania.
Throughout his travels, Reese has come to understand the importance of globalized citizenship.
“Even as a professor, it is important for us to travel because we are the ones that are exposing you to the world,” said Reese.
The panel included four students who had previously attended the study abroad program to Africa and the Middle East over the summer. They had the opportunity to tell the audience about their experiences.
While studying abroad, students shadowed social workers and worked closely with the Salvation Army.
Frank Calderon, a fifth-year political science student, said he learned a lot while working with the Salvation Army overseas.
“You see people that live in poverty, but they are happy and that’s one thing- I’ll never forget that,” said Calderon. “I feel like I go through a lot in life, but there are people that go through worst.”
Calderon said his experiences overseas made him realize the differences in culture such as the majority of self-immersed individuals in the United States compared to the welcoming and appreciative nature of people overseas.
“It opened up my eyes too; I want to see the world now because all these people [abroad] know about American culture, but we don’t know anything about them,” said Calderon.
Grace Olguin, a fourth-year sociology student, agrees with Calderon in that she also found studying abroad very rewarding.
“Ever since that experience, I have the travel bug,” said Olguin. “I feel going abroad really makes you grow as a person and it’s one of my goals to go all over the world and learn as much as I can.”
Panelist speaker Bryce Brady, a second-year political science student, said Reese has taught him about the importance of immersing oneself in a different culture.
“I’m going to keep traveling to keep learning more about people and then contribute to social justice. It’s not just me, it’s something that I feel that everybody needs to do because we could be a much more empathetic society…if we could step outside of our bubble,” said Brady.
Rochelle Raquel, a fourthyear kinesiology student, said studying abroad helped her realize that there is more to life tan most people think.
“When you see another culture and you realize that there is more to life than just all the material things that you may want here- it just really changes you,” said Raquel. “I really encourage students to not just study abroad, but be more interested in other cultures and be more open-minded about learning new things…because there is more to life.”
Reese concluded the panel by echoing the students’ positive experiences. He explained there are many personal benefits and ways to grow both professionally and personally in choosing to study abroad.
He said choosing to study abroad can be one of the most enriching, fulfilling and educationally stimulating experiences in life.
Many students who attended the panel were interested in the personal advancement studying abroad had to offer.
“I really learned a lot about study abroad; it’s something that I really haven’t been informed about but this really gave me a lot of information and it really seems interesting getting to know different cultures and meeting different people,” said Kenisha Howard, a fourth-year marketing student.
Reese said just attending class and achieving a 4.0 GPA is not enough. Students must embrace more of the world to understand themselves and the world they live in to be culturally inclined.
“This is not a textbook- this is reality and for you to be able to experience it and to be able to go back and talk about it that’s a compelling story,” said Reese. “Travelling is about making up your mind that you want to do it.”