Becker College co-hosts “Globalization of Worcester” symposium

Published on Thursday, April 24th, 2014

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View a photo gallery of the event.

On Tuesday evening, April 22, Becker College co-hosted a symposium entitled “The Globalization of Worcester: Enrichment, Challenge, and Opportunity for Our Immigrants,” which took place at Becker’s Center for Global Citizenship on its Worcester Campus.

Known as the “heart of the Commonwealth,” Worcester is home to a strong immigrant population whose diversity enriches the city in many ways. Yet the challenges immigrants face can be overlooked or not fully understood.  The symposium, which was sponsored by the Center for Family Progress, Becker College, and Seven Hills Global Outreach, was meant to raise awareness about Worcester’s immigrant population and to explore ways in which the community can commit to their social, educational, and economic well-being.

“The Center for Global Citizenship at Becker College was proud and honored to co-host this symposium,” said Rev. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine, Ph.D., Becker College professor of teacher education and family studies and the faculty coordinator for global citizenship. “The topic of including and celebrating the diversity of immigrants in our region aligns so well with Becker’s core values of social responsibility and community, and in our commitment to empowering all individuals.”

“This has been an incredible opportunity to bring together community members and organizations to honor and appreciate the strengths and benefits that refugees and immigrants bring to central Massachusetts,” said Ashley Emerson Gilbert, director of Seven Hills Global Outreach. “We must also acknowledge the great challenges that they face and support them in reaching their highest degree of independence and well-being, which is a core value of Seven Hills Global Outreach.”

“This is such an important discussion to facilitate here in the city of Worcester,” said City Manager Edward Augustus, Jr. “When it comes to having an important discussion, it seems that Becker is facilitating it. They are increasingly becoming a leader in bringing together these important discussions.”

The program featured remarks from key community leaders as well as moving stories of success from some of Worcester’s immigrants. Becker College President Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., opened the night thanking those in attendance, including fellow participants David Jordan, DHA, MPA, President and CEO, Seven Hills Foundation; John K. Amoah, D.Min., Ministerial and Evangelism Director, Southern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; Samuel N.K. Duodu, Founder, President, and CEO, Center for Family Progress; Anita Fábos, Ph.D., Clark University; and Harriett Chandler, Massachusetts State Senator.

“We want the community to know that people can be better off if we help them,” said Duodo. “We want them to know that the Center for Family Progress is here and we want to work with them. If we can teach people, the community will benefit and the system will grow. When building a house, you start with a foundation – we want the Center for Family Progress to be a solid base for immigrants where they can be led to the resources available to help them become better people.”

“We wanted to shine a light on our city’s rich cultural fabric,” said Kevin M.R. Mayne, vice president of enrollment management at Becker College and chair of the global citizenship program.  “At Becker, we believe it is vital that our students have an understanding of issues both global and local.  One the best ways to set an example for them and for others in our local community is to start right here at home – by celebrating the community, diversity, and globalization of Worcester.  Hearing the stories of local immigrants, in their own voices, was inspiring and impactful.”

The welcome reception featured work from Bosnian born coppersmith Bego Saracevic, and the speaking event was opened by a lively dance performance by The BEES.

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