Brookdale students, faculty and staff joined colleagues from around the world from Nov. 16-19 in celebrating the global exchange of ideas, values and culture during 2015 International Education Week.
The initiative, spearheaded by the U.S. State Department and Department of Education, kicked off at Brookdale with an international education information session at the Freehold campus and a free viewing of the film Biutiful in the Student Life Center in Lincroft.
Programming continued on Nov. 17 with a study abroad information session in Lincroft and a collaborative symposium on global health in the Student Life Center, hosted by members of Brookdale’s Students for Global Citizenship club, the International Student Association, Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) and the Student Nurses Association.
The event provided students with a wide range of information on global health crises and outreach initiatives, encouraging visitors to get informed and get involved. The Global Citizenship Club hosted a bake sale as part its effort to build a clean water well for thousands of people in a rural African village.
“It’s not just about access to clean water; it’s also about promoting education,” said Students for Global Citizenship member Mona Patel. “Girls are often the ones who have to walk several miles from their village and back just to get polluted water. With a water well in place, those girls would be able to go to school instead.”
On Nov. 18, students at the Long Branch Higher Education Center were treated to free lunch and viewing of the documentary Salud!, which highlights the progressive healthcare policies that arose out of the Cuban Revolution. Following the screening, assistant reading professor Barbara Barrella led students in a discussion about equal access to health care, and whether all humans have a right to receive quality, affordable care.
International Education Week concluded on Nov. 19 with a special guest lecture by global public health researcher Catherine Packer. The talk, hosted by the International Education Center and the Office of Student Life and Activities, centered on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health care in communities across the globe, with particular emphasis on the struggles faced by those in developing nations.
Addressing a wide range of students, staff and employees gathered in the Navesink Rooms, Packer explained how she grew up splitting time between Minnesota and Tanzania, where her parents worked studying lions. This “split focus,” along with her frequent travels to other developing African nations as a teenager, a college student, and now as researcher with FHI 360, allowed her to see the stark differences between the “western” approach to sexual and reproductive health care and those policies adopted in the developing world.
In many nations, she said, unmarried people, teens, homosexuals and other individuals are prohibited from accessing contraception, family planning services and other forms of health care. In these and other nations, abortions are either prohibited and sometimes even criminalized.
These policies, along with a scarcity of qualified health care providers throughout the developing world, have led to dramatically higher rates of maternal mortality, HIV transmission and unsafe abortions.
“Ninety-nine percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries,” Packer said. “The highest rates of maternal deaths occur in mothers under the age of 15.
“I think about this a lot,” Packer added, “because I am pregnant right now and I have an obstetrician who has 30 years of experience and works in a really nice health center that is only a 15 minute drive from my house. I think about all these deaths in these other countries, where people walk for hours to try to get to a facility and, when they get there, there isn’t anyone there who can even help them. It’s a sad problem.”
Packer also hosted a question-and-answer session with audience, during which she explained that American college students can get involved by trying to push for policy changes, funding or simply raising awareness of the challenges that people are facing in the developing world.
“Health care, water rights, human rights – these are issues that affect all of us on a global scale,” Patel said. “We have to realize that a lot of other people, especially in developing nations, don’t have the opportunities that we have. Our goal is to help community members understand those global problems and learn how they can join in the fight to end them.”
To learn more about the co-sponsors of this year’s International Education Week, click on the links above.
Check out more photos of the events here.
(Featured photo by Mark DeYoung, college relations intern)