Staying at the Schloss Leopoldskron, where The Sound of Music was filmed; attending lectures given by world-renowned scholars; walking throughout the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp. These were just some of the powerful experiences that students had during the recent Salzburg Global Seminar trip to Austria.
The seminar is the 56th International Study Program on Global Citizenship and included students from three CUNY community colleges: Bronx, Kingsborough and Queensborough, which had 16 student participants, twice as many as last year.
The central theme of the 2013 program was Global Citizenship: Ethics and Engagement. This is the fifth year in which selected QCC students received scholarships to participate in this prestigious program, which is funded by theQCC Fund Board, Inc. and sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
The trip to Salzburg was preceded by 10 weeks of preparation that included an orientation, assigned readings on sustainability, and presentations.
“This experience allowed me to be aware of what’s going on in the larger world,” said Lewis Gurgis, a second-year student majoring in Speech Communication and Theatre Arts. “The program should continue because it will strengthen the ability of future generations to work together to solve problems.”
“The goal is to send students abroad so they may return to share their experiences. This helps create a culture of awareness and empathy which is an essential element of well-rounded education,” said Lampeto (Bette) Efthymiou, Acting Manager, Center for International Affairs, Immigration and Study Abroad.
The QCC faculty advisors who have accompanied students over the past four years are Dr. Thomas Gerson, Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Department (ECET); Dr. Mark Van Ells, History; Professor Alexandra Tarasko,Nursing; and Chair, Faculty Executive Committee; and Dr. Lorena Ellis, Foreign languages and Literatures.
Salzburg: A Remarkable Intercultural Experience by Hugo Ramirez, Liberal Arts major and contributing writer to Communiqué.
The Global Citizenship Program in Salzburg, Austria could not have been a more exceptional trip. In between the Schloss Leopoldskron, which is the name of the magnificent sixteenth century castle surrounded by a lake near the snow-capped Alps and the city of Salzburg, where the conference was held, I had a remarkable and unforgettable experience. Salzburg has a rich historical and cultural legacy and is the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Universal music genius!
During the seminar I learned the importance of being a global citizen and the importance of understanding global issues. After the intense academic debates I’m convinced that my fellow peers and I have a clearer understanding about the importance of global issues. The seminar was a remarkable experience in respects to both the significance of the topics discussed each day and being able to analyze the socio-economic and political views of the European Union on globalization.
I think the most important part of the seminar was to enhance and enrich our minds through experiences and intercultural debating about global challenges. Some of the issues we learned about included immigration, poverty, education and the implication of the nuclear issue regarding global security. I believe we need more insight and a clear understanding of the commitment in being aglobal citizen to contribute to promoting equality and building a more sustainable world.
This has given us the knowledge and the tools to becoming more conscious global citizens. The students who attended this conference now have a different perspective on world events. In an era of constant change in global alliances, it is vital for Americans to understand international issues from other perspectives.
My most memorable experience of this conference was the visit to Dachau which was the first Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Walking through the barracks of Dachau where thousands of prisoners were confined before being tortured to death was incredibly disturbing because I never imagined how Nazi fanaticism was able to degrade humans in such a manner.
Genocide is one of the most barbaric crimes of humanity and after taking a tour through the Dachau concentration camp, I feel as though I am more knowledgeable about what truly happened during that terrible period in history. After visiting Dachau, I felt frustration, loneliness, compassion and above all, a deep sense of empathy that an atrocity such as the Holocaust occurred. I hope we learned and this shameful page in the history of men is never again repeated.
I returned highly motivated from Salzburg, in fact, I am sure that this experience will affect my future decisions. I strongly believe that I have a new outlook in my daily life. As a parent I’m happy to be able to share the experiences of Salzburg with my children and educate them on the importance of values that can make a difference within the 21st century. As a citizen, I can create awareness in my community about the importance of growth through intercultural exchange. The best way to enrich us all as individuals is by indulging and absorbing in other cultures in respect to global affairs.
At the end of this unforgettable journey, I have the commitment to act in a practical way on current issues and taking the ethical responsibility to promote the diversity of humanity, tolerance and solidarity. As I reflect, I believe that the most important factor of the 2013 Salzburg Global Seminar was the intercultural experience outside our borders. That being said I want to stress the importance of continuing to promote the Queensborough Community College Study Abroad Program, and this one in particular as the true path to create leaders of the future.