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Oct 02 2012

Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges- Part II

On Thursday, September 21st, the Community Service Center (CSC) once again brought together students from the International YMCA’s Youth Ambassador Program (YAP) and NYIT’s Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Program (HEOP) for a fun filled cultural exchange in Central Park.   The YAP students were visiting from their native countries of Colombia and Ecuador. The HEOP and YAP students broke into small groups of 2 to 5 students where they discussed their countries, customs, native languages, family lives, food, and more.

After a team building activity, the students had some time to reflect on the day’s events and discuss their feelings, struggles, misconceptions, and what they had learned. An overwhelming theme of these discussions was that they had more in common then they realized. Afterwards the YAP students invited the HEOP students to a small farewell ceremony they had put together for later that evening at the West Side International YMCA. Several HEOP students, HEOP Counselor Vanderie Vielie and the CSC Assistant Student Director Dyesha Durm attended the ceremony. There was an impressive presentation on global warming from the Colombian YAP students, singing and dancing acts from the Ecuadorian and local YMCA students, and a short dramatic act from the Colombian students. HEOP student Lakisha Scott describes her experience below. 

“Yesterday I attended an event where the International YMCA YAP participants came to visit New York. When being assigned to a partner, I wasn't too sure on how this was going to work being that the students spoke Spanish and I spoke English. My partner’s name was Paula. She was very sweet, and we were interested in getting to know each other more. We both enjoyed ourselves and exchanged information about where we were lived and much more. Later on she invited the rest of us to a farewell talent show, being that is was the students’ last day in New York. I had such a good time earlier, so I wanted to go and support them. When attending, I noticed how engaged all the students were as well as the amount of talent they had. I enjoyed my time getting to know all of the International YMCA YAP participants.  ‘If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’ ― Mother Teresa. This indeed is a powerful quote and I would have to say I agree. Walking away from the students felt as though I was leaving my family behind.”

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