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Academics Announcement
Aug 22 2012

Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges

On Friday, August 3, 2012, NYIT’s Manhattan Community Service Center (CSC) hosted a cultural exchange with Haitian students from the International YMCA’s Youth Ambassadors Program (YAP) and incoming freshmen from NYIT’s Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP).   After a brief “getting to know you” session the YAP and HEOP students were paired up into teams to participate in competitive activities in the local community, with the top three teams earning prizes. The activities included identifying Central Park landmarks, interviewing individuals about their goals and aspirations, and reporting their findings.  This was an opportunity for the students to get better acquainted with each other, the community, and work together as a team. When the students returned, a group reflection of the day’s activities took place.  During this reflection the HEOP and YAP students discussed some of the challenges they faced during the activity.  The primary challenge for both groups was communicating across the French/English language barrier.  Some of the solutions they devised to overcome this challenge were speaking more slowly and patiently with each other and using body language.   The overall theme of the reflective discussion seemed to be one of community, commonality, and patience.  Based on a reflective survey after the activity, 86% of the students said they would visit or volunteer in another country based on this experience and 76% said they would organize cultural exchange programs or events in their community based on this experience and stay in touch with their HEOP/YAP partner through email, Facebook, or Skype. The students from Haiti and NYIT expressed that they had more in common than they realized and that with a little bit of patience you can not only learn something new but even make a new friend.

The Manhattan Community Service Center and the International YMCA Youth Ambassadors Program are planning to host another cultural exchange with students from Ecuador and Colombia sometime in early September.  The purpose of the International YMCA’s Youth Ambassador Program is to give students, educators, and youth leaders from High Schools overseas the opportunity to experience the United States first-hand and to broaden their understanding of U.S. culture, education and society.    To learn how you can participate in the next NYIT/YAP cultural exchange contact the Manhattan Community Service Center at  

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