The Women’s and Diversity Center was proud to host this year’s Diversity Luncheon located in the Lower Hangar on April 4.

The luncheon started with a cuisine of exotic foods including an authentic chicken curry and rice, a pasta salad, hummus, and everyone’s favorite baklava. The lunch was very well prepared and set up. Everyone had a good time from the start.

As everyone was finishing up their meal, Dr. Melanie Wilson recognized the current board for their efforts which included board chair Thomas Gally, former chair Suzie Roth, Melissa Parsons, Sara Bofferding, Jim Sheridan, Shawn Carter, and Sandra Saar.

The new members of the board were also recognized.  The new members are Arlo Chan, Erica Diels, Geoffrey Jensen, Wahyu Lestari, student Lilith Matthews, Kelly O’Brien, Lauren Parsons, Tony Quach, and Jana Whittington.

Dr. Frank Ayers was proud to present the opening address, sharing a little bit about his own experiences abroad through his military history. Diversity is a relevant topic for everyone and at one point or another everyone will feel some sort of discrimination in some form or another.

The diversity committee has made a lot of progress at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the past year and the study abroad programs have played a large part in this.

Dr. Gally was the first to share his abroad experiences starting with his first professional job as a professor at a university in Cairo. For Dr. Gally, watching one of his sons thrive in the foreign environment was what really opened his eyes to more than just the U.S. Studying abroad gives people a new appreciation of other cultures and they make many friends along the way.

Allison Cisneros was the next to speak about her study abroad in China. Her experience there can best be wrapped up as interesting, however that is the beauty of studying abroad. These experiences are according to Cisneros “the good, the bad, the hilarious, and the fun,” but it is the experience that makes it all worthwhile.

Luke Burden’s experience abroad was that of opportunity.  If there is one thing Germany is famous for, other than its beer and sausage, it is engineering. For Burden, working with the engineers abroad was an experience that could never be had in the United States. The world has far more opportunities than what is offered in the U.S. alone.

Dr. O’Brien’s foreign experience came from joining the Peace Corps. Dr. O’Brien was sent to live in Mauritania. For her, this experience was “powerful.” Living in a poverty stricken nation that has only recently abolished slavery drastically changes one’s outlook on life. The things that you can learn about foreign cultures and the many friends you make through a study abroad will stick with you for the rest of your life.

As of this upcoming semester, 65 Embry-Riddle students will be studying abroad as well as many more that attend Embry-Riddle through exchange programs. The Study Abroad program here has grown in recent years and it has never been easier to join.

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