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Early one morning last month, a group of international students met at the commuter rail platform on campus. Jennifer Currie, staff assistant for the Dr. Edward W. Minnock Center for International Engagement, handed each a train schedule and a map of Boston.
“This is where we are going,” Ms. Currie told the students as she pointed to the small image of the Massachusetts Statehouse. The students were excited.
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) each semester takes a group of foreign exchange students to visit the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston, as a way of introducing the students to the city and to state politics. Students this semester found inspiration among the building’s great halls, as well.
“The students are here for at least a semester and the visit provided historical background and insight in to the location which they’ll be living,” said Ms. Currie. “It’s valuable as well especially for students whom may come from different governmentally-officiated backgrounds and countries.”
The visit began with a tour of the historic Doric Hall given by BSU political science student, Adam Tigges, who interned at the Statehouse for three years as a tour guide and was recently offered a staff position leading tours.
Students also visited the House of Representatives and Senate Chamber, where they learned about the functions of the branches, the process of lawmaking, and the voting process.
The tour was more than an opportunity for students to learn about local government, and observe elaborate mosaics, historical architecture and memorial tributes. It also helped them learn ways to become more civically engaged -- engagement that Belizean exchange student, Elena Smith, recalls from her work spearheading one of the most notable strikes in her country’s history.
“It’s of utmost importance that we become involved in the decision making process of government, because the decisions made will affect us and future generations, our salaries, and access to services,” said Smith, who served as president of the Belize National Teachers’ Union during the union's strike in 2005.
“The most useful part of the tour was learning the history and the contributions of past leaders as well as reading the relevant quotes scripted on the pictures of the women of color,” Ms. Smith continued. “The quotes gave me a revived and energized spirit to continue fighting for the less fortunate.”
Rashid Murillo, also a Belizean exchange student, was impressed with the personalized tour given by Mr. Tigges. “He made me appreciate the history of the building and the people who worked hard or had some influence in what the house stands for today,” said Mr. Murillo. “A tour is important to international students, because it gives a sense of the pride and patriotism that the people of Massachusetts have.” (Sasha Link, Dr. Edward W. Minnock Center for International Engagement)
Find out more about ISSS at: https://services.bridgew.edu/Directory/search_dept.cfm?dept=116.