JAMESTOWN - The College Connections program at Jamestown Community College recently sponsored a cultural symposium for Spanish language students from the Bemus Point, Chautauqua Lake, Clymer, Frewsburg, Olean, Panama, Pine Valley and Randolph school districts.
The symposium, which coincided with Internation-al Education Week, included educational sessions, lunch, and a performance by the Infinity program's Steel Pan Alley.
More than 150 students and their teachers were encouraged to celebrate the cultural diversity that exists in their own backyards.
In addressing the students, JCC Spanish instructor and College Connections liaison Laura Anderson noted, "Our challenges today are increasingly borderless. We need to consider complex issues that go beyond any one nation or culture, and in doing so we must value an education that includes knowledge as well as an understanding about other cultures and world languages."
The goal of the symposium, added Anderson, was to emphasize that western New York features a wealth of diverse people, languages, and cultures.
"Becoming a globally competent citizen is about learning to maneuver in multiple spaces, communicate with more people, and essentially find collaborative solutions with and among people who may be very different from us," Anderson added.
JCC's modern languages coordinator and event facilitator Theresa Baginski agreed, noting "We must encourage our students to think globally. Studying a foreign language is just the beginning; greater cultural awareness and appreciation must follow."
Symposium participants met with a group of JCC's international students from Iraq, Puerto Rico, Ven-ezuela, Brazil and Jamaica and listened to presentations from refugees sponsored by VIVE, Inc. in Buffalo, the nation's largest refugee shelter. Refugees from Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo,and Somalia shared their personal, and often emotional, stories.
The event is one in a series aimed at providing enriching educational opportunities for College Connections students.
"In addition to partnering with teachers to offer JCC coursework in the high schools, we want to bring students to campus for events that augment coursework, said College Connec-tions director Maria Kind-berg. "College Connections aims to both increase college access and enrich the learning experience."
For additional information, contact Kindberg at 338-1143 or MariaKindberg@mail.sunyjcc.edu.