Thursday, December 2, 2010

     By Brent Peterkin,
     During the Cold War, citizens of the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics found themselves either confounded or nationalistically pertinacious; harboring contempt for the lifestyle and culture portrayed within the borders of the opposed foreign nation. Most of what was propagated was very orchestrated and in some cases untrue. After the fall of the U.S.S.R. and a the emergence of ideological reformations in many countries, there has been a political and economic shift towards democratic capitalism; which has greatly affected the perceptions once held by many citizens across the globe. As a result of some of these changes, there has been a more comprehensive influx of culture via televised media and the Internet. Citizens around the world may find themselves influenced by dogmatic propaganda spurred by the media and various special interest groups, only to learn during social encounters, investigative research or practical understanding that we are all not as different as some would allege. I guess in some cases there has been a bit of the “blind” being lead by concepts of Edward Bernays or Ivy Lee.
     World history has been riddled with deplorable circumstances that stemmed from ignorance, bias and fear. Some may agree that there has been a resurfacing of stigmas and instigated prejudice in the present day. An affirmation of this notion maybe supported by the advent of “Islamophobia” and the opposition to the proposed construction of a Islamic Cultural Center in proximity to the site of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. In addition there are many who share an anti-American view but may never have had the opportunity to have a progressive discourse with an American citizen. Many of the stereotypes and false characterizations of faiths, cultures and nationality are untrue; I can state this with confidence because of the personal connections I have made with students at LaGuardia. Globalization encourages the world to economically condense without adverse cultural dilution. Thus, an aspect of globalization is global cultural homogeneity. After my first semester, I realized very quickly that LaGuardia is a microcosm of the realities of globalization. I am fortunate to be in a collegiate environment that allows me to become personally engaged with citizens who have migrated to the US from all over the world; totaling in more than 165 nationalities. In would be an oversimplification to merely conclude that LaGuardia has a diverse student population. We are a cultural weave of students in a liberal environment that spurs learning and a sense of community without hindrance, while keeping our commonalities rooted in progress. Globalization also encompasses new networking combinations; you may have a student from Somalia and a student from Ethiopia conversing over Caribbean cuisine at Golden Krust or an Israeli Jew and Lebanese Arab sharing notes before a midterm. Friendships can be formed here, at LaGuardia, while they may be prohibited elsewhere. I implore my fellow students to reach out to someone who is from another part of the globe, and through the extension of solidarity we will enhance global unity one person at a time. In this regard, the community of students and faculty at LaGuardia are an extension of globalization and nurture the facilitation of cross-cultural networking.
     As a result of globalization, LaGuardia has been able to provide my peers and I with perspectives that counter myths, while increasing correspondence. This opportunity helps to prepare me for the world of tomorrow, a world that will be much “smaller” than the one we are experiencing today. When one is placed in a sea of nationalities and ethnicities, he or she may come to the realization that they are part of a global citizenship and no longer see themselves as an “island”. I believe that the cross cultural exchanges made at LaGuardia will spiral in growth as many of us graduate and move onto four year universities or join the workforce. The relationships built at LaGuardia will equip us to have a more comprehensive understanding of the perspectives, sensitivities and interest that maybe shared by our future colleges. This will be relevant, regardless of your major, whether it’s related to business, healthcare services or engineering. You may find your self in a position to seek employment or academic opportunities abroad. The ultimate benefit of being a student at LaGuardia is the ability to share my experiences and cultural influences with others.

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