Brookdale students and faculty shared their stories of immigration on March 12 as part of Brookdale’s Global Read initiative, sponsored by the International Education Center (IEC) and The Global Citizenship Project (GCP).
The text the Global Read is working with is Pointed Toward the Sun. It is a multidisciplinary text written by Brookdale students and faculty and complied by Donna Pope, professor in the English department. Three Brookdale students spoke at the Global Read book discussion about the stories they shared and their experiences with immigration.
“The topic of the immigrant experience is such a relevant topic in today’s world,” Pope said to the audience of students, faculty, and staff. She said she’s discovered so many amazing stories about immigration while working at Brookdale and she wanted to share those stories. “I wanted to give a voice to the immigrant experience, the sacrifices, and the courage it takes to make this change,” Pope said.
“The moment I got to Brookdale, I knew I could do something. I didn’t feel like I was strange anymore,” Rania Targali, Brookdale student, said. She explained that once she saw her personal essay in Pointed Toward the Sun, she realized “I really can achieve something, and I can be successful.”
“Being an immigrant, you have to let go of some things and start a new life. It’s a new beginning with new achievements,” Targali said.
“There are a lot of challenges for immigrants when they come to a new country,” Ping Phillips, also a Brookdale student, said. The story she wrote for the text is about moving to America with her daughter. She said her English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at Brookdale were instrumental in improving her English.
“Coming here taught me many things. It changed my life a lot,” Bulan Thassanid, current Brookdale student and author of a personal essay included in Pointed Toward the Sun, said.
“Hearing you is hearing a little part of my story. There is a common theme for all immigrants — you become strong and resilient,” Marlene Prado, Brookdale student who attended the event, told the panel of authors. “It’s great for you to share your story and please continue to do it. This country is an immigrant country, and everyone has something to share,” she said.
The next Global Read event will be “From Authors to Leaders: Supporting Immigrant Communities” on March 27 from 12-1:30 p.m. at Brookdale’s Long Branch Higher Education Center. Student authors and community leaders will share their stories, outline their challenges, and discuss their work as it relates to issues affecting immigrant communities at this free event which is open to all.
Global Read participants and contributors to Pointed Towards the Sun (left to right): Brookdale faculty members Donna Pope, Nathalie Darden, Ashley Zampogna-Krug, and Raj Wesley with Brookdale students Bulan Thassanid, Ping Phillips, and Rania Targali with Kelsey Maki, Brookdale faculty member and faculty liaison to the International Center.