By Belinda Asamoah, Nursing and Creative Writing Major, and Sophia Jimenez, Architecture Major

Most institutions today value diversity and inclusion. When an institution is diverse and inclusive, creativity and productivity increase. These qualities do not develop overnight: for an institution to be diverse and inclusive, it starts with its ability to create a better understanding and respect for different nations and cultures. As students, we all hope to graduate from Brookdale as Global Citizens who understand, respect, and care for people with diverse backgrounds.

This important goal is attainable through our active participation in Brookdale’s Global Citizenship Distinction Program. This past academic year, we were fortunate to see the world beyond our backyards. We had picked the theme “Human Trafficking” and spent a lot of time probing this topic deeper.

With the guidance of our faculty advisor, Dr. Raj Wesley, and the encouragement from Dr. Janice Thomas, Director of the International Education Center, we could view this issue on a broader scale through our collaboration with Pontificia Universidade Catholica de Goias in Brazil. It was one of the first-ever such projects at Brookdale. We worked as a group with our fellow students in Brazil under the banner of the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Project. It was an enriching experience: through this partnership, we have developed an excellent rapport with our peers in Brazil, and we now have a deeper understanding and respect for their culture.

These collaborations have been instrumental in helping us build a strong network which is beneficial in creating more opportunities for us to excel in our college careers and beyond.

Additionally, we focused on the theme of Human Trafficking, and spread awareness by engaging in activities like last year’s Civility Week Panel at Brookdale. We designed and displayed posters, conducted a workshop at Neptune High School, and held a Spoken Word Night to creatively bring awareness to this critical issue. It took significant planning and interaction with the Brookdale community, from students to administrators and the Neptune School District. Finally, executing the Workshop with our GCD peers, faculty from the high school, support from Ms. Angela Kariotis’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and our advisor Dr. Wesley, was a wonderful and worthwhile learning experience! We certainly are inspired and waiting to go back and do more!

Our involvement in the Global Citizenship Distinction Program has been critical in providing us with a well-rounded and harmonious education here at Brookdale. This involvement is a step taken in the right direction to shape us into Global Citizens who will certainly positively impact our communities and workplaces. In addition, it has enabled us to develop a broader vision, perspective, and commitment to our role in shaping the world to become a better place.

We are now excited about what unfolds in the coming year as we plan to lay out our current theme of “Mental Health.” We look forward to working with different factions at the College and beyond to guide students and the community in what it means to have a complete sense of health and well-being. It is a vital issue that concerns the entire global community, and we cannot wait to do our best.