SJU aims to promote cultural awareness

This semester, St. John’s University launched the Global Awareness Project (GAP), an initiative to promote cross-cultural understanding, as well as cultural appreciation by expanding students’ perception of the world. It also aims to increase awareness of other world cultures and the societal problems they face.

Through various co-curricular activities, social justice initiatives, study and service abroad, and large-scale cultural events, the GAP hopes to prepare students to successfully participate as responsible world citizens in the increasingly global society.

“The Global Awareness Project will enrich the college experience for our students and support our university in several ways,” said Darren M. Morton, the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and one of the organizers of the GAP.

“This project is a high priority for the Division of Student Affairs and will immerse our students in social justice and global issues.”

To achieve its goals, the GAP will require a multi-faceted approach and the development of an appropriate infrastructure.
Under the direction of senior Student Affairs leadership, the staff of Multicultural Affairs will supervise all affiliated student groups and provide direction for major global awareness activities.

They will also act as the point of contact for all faculty, UN representatives, non-governmental organizations, and all others who will be involved in this initiative.

Components of the program include awareness campaigns such as The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (UNMDG) Campaign and The Save Darfur Campaign. Some of the student groups involved in the program are the Global Awareness Students campaign and Model United Nations.

In order to raise awareness about GAP, Reggie Barnes, the Director of Multicultural Affairs, provided information and answered questions at an event held on Thursday, September 20.

Representatives of the student groups involved were also present to highlight the activities of their organizations.

“The main goal is to help students expand and care about people beyond their friends and family,” he said.
Students who went to the event felt that it was successful and that the GAP will benefit St. John’s.

“It was excellent,” said senior Joseph Sciortinl about the event. “It is very important that the university takes on the Global Awareness Project to help other countries.”

Faculty members agreed with students.

“I am here because I believe that the globalization of career services is important,” said Jessica Bickley of the Career Center. “I think that the Career Center should be in touch with the pulse of global events.”

She added, “I like to help students develop satisfying careers. I believe that there is a growing need for students to engage in international careers based on humanitarian issues and international business.”

The GAP will be holding many scheduled events, and the first event that was held was a moment of silence on Friday, September 21, 2007, to commemorate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a day of global ceasefire and non-violence. The GAP will also be holding cultural events and fundraisers, and it will observe International AIDS Day, the International Walk for Hunger, and Fair Trade Awareness.