This year, Brookdale Community College’s Honors in Action Lecture Series will focus on both the past and the future with the theme of “To the Seventh Generation: Inheritance and Legacy.”
Brookdale’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the honor society for two-year college students, annually hosts an Honors in Action project that “combines academic research, problem solving, and action-oriented service to address real world challenges in our communities,” explained Angela Saragusa, English professor at Brookdale and advisor of Phi Theta Kappa. Each year’s theme is provided by PTK Middle State Region, but it is flexible enough that students can incorporate their interests and the needs of the community. “PTK members research independently, and then together they discuss their findings as they brainstorm potential service ideas and how to share their findings with the college, the community, and with PTK,” Saragusa said. In the past, PTK members have focused on creating community mentoring programs, reframing our understanding of addiction and providing resources to combat the stigma of opioid addiction, and understanding our impact on the environment and creating a healthier world.
This year, PTK is hosting a lecture series intended to get participants to consider what we have inherited from our ancestors and the legacy we can leave for future generations. After discussing their findings, members of the PTK contacted Dr. Sara Brown, director of the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Education (Chhange), to seek her input. “We met with her to discuss the students’ ideas and vision, and she was a wonderfully supportive resource,” Saragusa said. With the help of Brown, PTK members decided to host a series of virtual lectures given by Holocaust and Genocide survivors. “Dr. Brown has worked very closely with the refugees who will be a part of our series and she has been instrumental in engaging with them to participate,” said Saragusa.
The Honors in Action Lecture Series “To the Seventh Generation: Inheritance and Legacy” invites refugees to share their experiences. “Brookdale’s Chapter of PTK chose the theme ‘The Heirs of Our Ways.’ With this chosen theme and everything that was going on in society dealing with refugees, whether they were children, adolescents, or young adults, we knew in our hearts that we wanted to focus on them more than anything,” said Angela Ahmadi, a science major and vice president of philanthropy for the PTK Honor Society at Brookdale. She explained the members of PTK researched the physical and psychological effects refugees face on their journeys as well as connected with organizations like Chhange “to focus on our refugee community in order to not only help them but learn from them as well.”
All of the guest speakers for the lecture series are refugees who will share their stories. “Students will be a part of the Q and A with the refugees, but they are sharing their stories of what happened and why in their own words. It is their voices and experiences that are imperative to hear, so we will not be moderating as much as listening and learning from them,” Saragusa explained.
“When discussing our Honors in Action project, we knew that we wanted to spread awareness and educate others on how we inherit certain beliefs through our life but also how we use those inherited beliefs to leave behind positive legacies for generations to follow,” Ahmadi explained.
It is that blend of understanding the past to make a better future that the PTK members hope the audience will gain from the experience. “With all of our Honors in Action projects, students and audience members will be able to connect with their community and come together to make a change as well as educate each other about the world around us. We hope that our audience and members will gain a sense of empowerment to want to help make a change in the world,” said Ahmadi.
All lectures will be held via Zoom and are open to the public. The schedule is:
- November 23 at 7 p.m. Yannick Tona, a child survivor of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, will discuss the experience
- November 24 at 11:45 a.m. Claire Boren, a Hidden Child Survivor during the Holocaust, will tell her story
- December 1 at 11:45 a.m. Ruth Rosenfeld will share her childhood experiences, as well as her trip back to Poland and her hope for the next generation
- December 7 at 7 p.m. is the Final Presentation with Dr. Sara Brown, director of Chhange
To find out more or participate in any of the lectures, please visit brookdalecc.edu/ptkevents