February 13, 2017
(NEW YORK, N.Y. – February 14, 2017) Brittany Bellinger, a student at SUNY Empire State College’s Manhattan location in New York City, will take part in the inaugural Congressional Black Caucus Japan Exchange Program in March. Only 15 college students were accepted into this selective program this year.
The program, “Emerging Leaders: Japan Exchange Program Kakehashi Project,” will take place March 14 through 24, in partnership with the government of Japan. Students will engage in learning projects in and around Tokyo, Japan, over eight days. The program will include site visits to cultural and historical landmarks, lectures on U.S.-Japan relations, visits to leading companies specializing in technology and trade, and an overnight visit with a Japanese family. Prior to departure, participants will take part in orientation activities in Washington, D.C., followed by a debrief session upon their return.
Bellinger, a Brooklyn resident studying Public Affairs with a concentration in urban planning, said, “I applied to the Emerging Leaders program because it suited my current studies and future endeavors. The criteria practically felt like reading my own bio. They were looking for black scholars studying urban planning who were passionate about expanding globalization for African-Americans. It felt very fitting.”
Bellinger chose to apply upon the recommendation of her faculty mentor at the college, Associate Professor of Cinema and Cultural Studies Ruth Goldberg.
“One of the dynamic aspects of studying at Empire State College is the way a student’s degree plan can change and adapt to incorporate new educational opportunities,” Goldberg said. “When Brittany planned her degree in urban planning, she did not know that she would find a program that brings urban planning students to Japan, but now that this rather extraordinary applied learning opportunity has presented itself, it will fit beautifully into her degree plan as part of a study on urban planning in an international context.
“Brittany is a strong example of the kind of student SUNY Empire was designed to serve,” added Goldberg, “so the fact that she is representing the college is gratifying and gives an external audience a strong and accurate impression of exactly who our amazing students are.”
Brittany Bellinger is a writer, arts educator, scholar and aspiring urban planner. As a native New Yorker, she has dedicated her life to studying and improving urban cities. Her work experiences include education and activism. Spending her formative years working as a mentor with UrbanWordNYC and as a curriculum coordinator for the Harlem Children’s Zone, has had a great impact on her views on city life. She has volunteered with the arts organization Creative Time, and with God’s Love We Deliver. She is a 2017 Emerging Leaders fellow for the Japan Exchange Program with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Upon graduating from SUNY Empire State College, Bellinger plans to help local residents in underserved communities improve their lives. Bellinger wants to continue her studies at the graduate level, focusing on housing and economic development.
Although the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has sponsored an exchange program with China for many years, this is the first exchange with Japan. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation selected 15 participants for its first CBCF “Emerging Leaders: Japan Exchange Program Kakehashi Project” in partnership with the government of Japan. Through this initiative, the CBCF, the Embassy of Japan and the Japanese International Cultural Center aim to increase African-American interest in and exposure to the culture of Japan, thereby expanding opportunities for African-Americans in an era of increasing globalization.
Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates nearly 19,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, 34 locations across the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.
The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students’ average age is 40.
Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.
In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.
Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and coursework on site, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.
Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.
The college’s 78,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.
The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977. Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.
David M. Henahan, Director of Communications 518-587-2100, ext. 2918 David.Henahan@esc.edu
518-321-7038(after 5 p.m. and weekends)