Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Students discuss "Coming to America" for International Education Week

Panelists (L-R) included: Pasang Sherpa (panel organizer), Sonam Sherpa, Dr. Aakriti Tandon (Assistant Professor of Political Science), Elvira Zaykova, Johanes (Jacob) Tacastacas, Tsering Choedon, Carla Hernandez (front), Kimberley Maende, Zahra Nayyeri, Amie Dukuray, and Sophia Ng (Global Programs Office). (Photo courtesy of Pasang Sherpa)

By: Dr. Aakriti Tandon

The Offices of Global Programs and Housing & Residence Life jointly sponsored a student panel on Coming to America on November 19, 2013, to honor International Education Week at Daemen College. The panel was moderated by Dr. Aakriti Tandon, Assistant Professor of Political Science in the History & Political Science Department, and organized by Daemen student Pasang Sherpa. A wide range of countries were represented by the panelists, who included Carla Hernandez (Mexico), Zahra Nayyeri (Iran), Sonam Sherpa (Nepal), Elvira Zaykova (Ukraine), Amie Dukuray (Zimbabwe), Kimberley Maende (Kenya), Tsering Choedon (Tibet), and Johanes Tacastacas (Philippines).

Panelists Elvira Zaykova, Amie Dukuray, Sonan Sherpa, and Kimberley Maende, with Dr. Aakriti Tandon. (Photo courtesy of Pasang Sherpa.)
Several students shared their experiences of culture shock they experienced when they first settled in the United States. The perceived cultural differences ranged from food choices to holiday celebrations to dating and the education system. Some common themes emerged in spite of the very diverse experience of the panelists. Almost all of them felt they had been stereotyped at some point in their stay in America. The students felt that there was a lack of awareness regarding their home countries and some had taken it upon themselves to educate their classmates about their culture and traditions, thereby discouraging certain stereotypes. Kimberley said that she had been questioned if she grew up in the vicinity of lions and lived in a hut back in Africa. Tsering explained that she was constantly asked if she was from China, Japan or Korea. She has often had to show Tibet on a map to her classmates and frequently attempts to share the history and culture of Tibet with her friends. Amie has adopted a similar approach, trying to debunk the myth that Africa is one giant country.

Panelists & some of the audience members at the "Coming to America" event

Almost all the panelists concurred that their family, relatives and friends back home felt that they were rich because they lived in America. Sitcoms and Hollywood movies had led them all to believe that America was the land of the rich where "money grows on trees," to use an old cliche. The panelists had often been asked to bring back expensive gifts, symbols of American capitalism. Carla Hernandez, a History major and Pre-law minor, explained that she always brought back keychains from the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State building for her family and friends in Mexico. She also stressed that people in Mexico don't all "wear sombreros" or "eat tacos." The country has a rich variety of food and people, and she would like to share these experiences with her classmates. Opportunities like this enable students to enhance their college experience. The panelists expressed concern about how many Americans know very little about many countries in the world and stressed the need for education in global history and geography.

(For more information about study abroad opportunities, please contact Ms. Sophia Ng of the Global Programs Office.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lieutenant Sean McCarthy--Alumni Profile

Lieutenant Sean McCarthy in Marine Corps flight school

Sean McCarthy graduated from Daemen College in 2011 with a degree in History & Government. Currently, he is a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, and is finishing up pilot training. We invited Sean to write a guest blog about his experiences in the History & Political Science Department. Sean also explains how his education has helped him to prepare for a career in the Marine Corps.  

Lieutenant Sean McCarthy:  

While enrolled at Daemen College, I attended Officer Candidates School over the summer with the goal of commissioning as an officer in the Marine Corps upon graduation. My first stop as a Second Lieutenant was The Basic School, where my classmates and I learned basic infantry tactics and general officership. After TBS, I began flight school, and as of today I’m about to finish primary flight training followed hopefully by advanced helicopter flight training. 

So, how did my time at Daemen prepare me for being a Marine or a pilot? My education built a strong foundation with which I was able to adapt and thrive in my military training. I left the History & Political Science Department at Daemen a well-rounded student. This ended up becoming a strength of mine, as my post collegiate training has been based on an extremely wide and rapidly changing range of topics. I credit my education with giving me the initial skill set to quickly adjust to these ever evolving challenges. 

My senior thesis evaluated what effects a deployment to Afghanistan had on returning veterans. Because my professors gave me the latitude to investigate a topic I was passionate about, the thesis didn’t become just another assignment. I was able to fully involve myself in the process, and by doing so I gained the self-confidence and reliance that comes with completing a project of this size. They guided me through the project without holding my hand, allowing me to grow professionally in addition to furthering my knowledge on the topic.

The most significant thing I learned from my professors at Daemen, particularly in the History & Political Science Department, was dedication. They went above and beyond from what I expected from a teacher to help me reach my goals. I truly believe that each one of my professors came to work to develop students, and not show up to simply collect a pay check. They understand that leadership positions are about service. Whether you’re a professor, a manager, or a military officer your job is to serve those working for you, especially if you expect them to do the same.

Dr. Tandon to Moderate Student Panel Discussion as Part of the Global Programs Office International Education Week

Coming to America   

The Global Programs Office is organizing a Student Panel, 'Coming to America,' to celebrate International Education Week at Daemen College. The panel will include international students from a diverse range of countries, who will talk about the culture shock and perceived cultural differences when they initially settled in the United States. Dr. Aakriti Tandon, Assistant Professor of Political Science in the History & Political Science Department will serve as the faculty moderator for this event. The event is coordinate by Daemen student Pasang Sherpa.

International Education Week will be celebrated from November 18-22 at Daemen College. The 'Coming to America' panel will be held on Tuesday, November 19 at 11:30 in RIC 101.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Elizabethtown, NY, newspaper feature story on Kaleigh Ratliff

The experiences of recent Daemen College graduate Kaleigh Ratliff (History & Government, '13), were featured in a November 4 story published in her hometown newspaper, The Elizabethtown Press-Republican, linked here:  "E'town Woman Helps Document Concentration Camp." The story describes Kaleigh's work with a service-learning project restoring the Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl, Poland, and her response to a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, established during World War II in Nazi-occupied Poland.   

Kaleigh Ratliff shows tombstones in the Jewish cemetery restoration project from July 2013.  Photo by Alvin Reiner, Elizabethtown Press-Republican

Kaleigh traveled to Przemyśl, Poland, in Spring 2013 and again in July 2013 with a student exchange group from Daemen. Kaleigh's work in Poland illustrates her interest in extending her Daemen education beyond the classroom.  At Daemen, Kaleigh's coursework included a Dr. Andrew Wise's class in Polish Culture, and courses in Public History. In addition to her major in History & Government, Kaleigh completed a minor in Public History and had internships at the Smithsonian Institution (through the Washington Internship Institute, for which she was a Daemen Student Ambassador) and at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site.

To learn more about the Polish exchange between Daemen and PWSW, contact Dr. Andrew Wise.  If you are interested in learning more about Daemen's Public History minor, contact Dr. Penny Messinger.