During April 6-17, 2018, Stetson University celebrated its inaugural Global Citizenship Symposium. This year’s event investigated immigration from the lenses of education, laws and policy, economy and business, identity, and the immigrant experience. The two-week event brought the world to Stetson University to grapple with borders and difference through diverse presentations ranging from panel presentations to creative expression. Most events offered Cultural Credit.
Opening Panel: Global Citizenship Symposium
(Special session during the Colloquium on Teaching & Learning Innovation)
This panel session marked the launch of the Global Citizenship Symposium on Immigration, a multi-day interdisciplinary series of events exploring a topic of highly charged political debates and a site of crucial struggles for human and civil rights. Dr. Jelena Petrovic, assistant professor of communication and media studies, and Paula Hentz, director of international learning, discussed the need for placing immigration at the core of Stetson University’s commitment to global citizenship by developing systematic initiatives and resources for addressing the needs of immigrants in the campus community.
Campus Screening and Discussion of “Indivisible”
In collaboration with Hope CommUnity Center, the Deland Campus community viewed the documentary “Indivisible: Love Knows No Borders”. The film follows Renata, Evelyn, and Antonio who were young children when their parents brought them to the U.S. in search of a better life; they were teenagers when their mothers, fathers, and siblings were deported. Today, they are known as Dreamers. Frustrated with the stalled legislative process, the trio take matters into their own hands and petition for a special waiver that would allow them to leave the U.S to visit their families—and legally return. The screening was followed by discussion with Evelyn Rivera, activist and one of the main protagonists featured in the documentary. Rivera discussed the experience of participating in the documentary as well as challenges she and the others featured in the documentary experienced as they were fighting for immigration reform while undocumented.
Acirema Interactive Simulation
Acirema, America spelled backwards, is an immigration simulation game designed to expose participants to the hurdles foreigners face when the come to the USA as to study abroad as students. Acerima was presented by WORLD Ambassadors and the Muslim Students Association. Any domestic student interested in learning more about the study abroad experience of Stetson’s international community was invited to participate. During the simulation, ambassadors and MSA students played roles as immigration officers, college admission officers, bankers, language proficiency examiners, and more, to construct an authentic learning experience for participants. Each domestic student took on the role of a foreign student in order to to learn how to independently navigate the admissions and immigration process at an American college college. Acirema is commonly used by international educators to encourage understanding and empathy for foreign students and employees.
Exhibit on Immigrant Art and Literature
Over the course of two days, students, faculty, and staff viewed and reflected on selected artwork and poetry about and by immigrants. Hosted at the duPont Ball Library, exhibits featured the works of artists from other parts of the country as well as Stetson students’ poetry. Each artistic piece invited readers to think about struggle, discrimination, and invisibility of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Children’s Literature and Immigration
During this interactive session, Dr. Carine Strebel and Dr. Mary Ellen Oslick shared children’s books and books written for young adolescent readers that depict immigrants’ reasons for leaving their home country, their at time perilous journey to a better life, and their stories of arrival and integration into the new environment. They discussed the benefits of (multi)culturally responsive literature for students, shared tips for evaluating and selecting multicultural literature, and facilitated a “tabletop twitter” activity in which the audience examined books and then shared personal experiences and insights gained through hashtags, a tweet on paper, a quote, or a quote.
Arepas, Tacos, and More: Foodways of the Latin America Diaspora
During this popular symposium event, Dr. Ana Servigna, visiting assistant profesor of anthropology, adjunct professor Maria Servigna, and students Valeria Servigna and Angelica Martinez, shared information about Latin American culinary traditions that are currently influencing the U.S. gastronomic scene. Arepas are a type of food made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. Students were able to sample Latin American foods and make their own arepas!
Common Treasure: Celebrating the UN Day of Peace
Dr. Rajni Shankar Brown, associate professor of education and the Jessie Ball DuPont Chair of Social Justice Education, Roxanne Lewis, international student and scholar services coordinator, and Lindsey Graves, assistant director of Interfaith Initiatives, teamed up to educate the Stetson community about the annual UN Day of Peace and ongoing world peace efforts. Shankar-Brown laid the foundation by reviewing The UN Peace Accord and the history of its creation while Graves and Lewis presented a recap of Stetson’s response to the UN Call for Peace over the past two years. Comments and suggestions from the audience will frame Stetson’s 2018 Peace Day activities. The activity affirmed Stetson University’s commitment to addressing peace as a critical element of global citizenship.
Campus Screening and Discussion of “Dalya’s Other Country”
This screening of “Dalya’s Other Country” was presented by Dr. Elisabeth Poeter and students from her Gender and Migration course. The documentary shares the personal story of a Syrian woman and her daughter immigrating to the US to escape war in their home country. Following the film, the presenters engaged the audience in a robust conversation about immigration including common misconceptions and how immigration is typically represented in the media.
History, Politics and Policy
Is an “open border” policy possible and beneficial? In a lively debate, Dr. Paul Croce, professor of history, Dr. David Hill, professor of political science, Dr. Alan Green, professor of economics, and Dr. Steven Smallpage, assistant professor of political science, invited audience members to consider this question through an interdisciplinary lens and immigration as a phenomenon shaped by politics, economy, and U.S. history.
Immigration and Business
During this presentation, Lou Paris, instructor of international business and new venture creation, shared his personal stories of immigration from Venezuela to Canada, Spain, Germany, and the United States. He also discussed how immigration impacts and improves business globally.
In this workshop facilitated by the Hope CommUnity Center, audience members learned more about the personal stories of undocumented citizens in the Central Florida community.
Students, faculty and staff basked in the beautiful sunshine surrounded by the sights, sounds, and delicious foods and activities representing the various cultures found on the Stetson campus.
Members of the Stetson international community organized tables outside of the CUB where they highlighted information about their home country, provided samples of traditional food, and informed guests on immigration statistics. Eman Elsayed Eltaher Mahmoud Abdelhalim, Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant and Arabic instructor at Stetson, showed participants how to spell their names in Arabic and dressed women in traditional garb. Attendees learned about different immigrant populations in the US, where they settle, why they immigrated, and where else in the world they tend to go. Countries represented included Australia, Brazil, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Serbia, Venezuela, the UK, and others.
Lifting Our Lamps: Protecting the Human Rights of Refugee and Migrant Individuals, Families, and Children
Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, associate professor of education and the Jessie Ball DuPont Chair of Social Justice Education, led a discussion on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how it pertains to today’s refugee crisis. Participants engaged in creating an art display which shows Stetson’s commitment to promoting peace and supporting human rights.
Panel: Gender and Migration
Students in Dr. Elisabeth Poeter’s Gender and Migration course (GEND 400) presented research projects which examined the intersectionality between gender and immigration status. Students’ research topics included an investigation into Syrian refugee women’s experiences; statelessness and state-created vulnerability; and migratory patterns of black LGBT+ people.
Stetson University extends deepest appreciation to the 2018 Global CItizenship Symposium Planning Committee:
- Dr. Jelena Petrovic, assistant professor of communication and media studies
- Paula Hentz, director of international learning
- Dr. Carine Strebel, assistant professor of education and coordinator of English for Speakers of Other Languages
- Dr. Chris Ferguson, professor of psychology
- Mirrett Saad, student representative
- Dr. Jessica West, assistant professor of finance; and
- Dr. Sam Houston, Brown Visiting Teacher-Scholar Fellow in Islamic studies
The symposium is a program of WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning at Stetson University.