Student Spotlight: Brittany Bellinger to Participate in Inaugural Congressional Black Caucus Japan Exchange
by Hope Ferguson, SUNY Empire State College
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 acceptedinto 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.”?
About Brittany Bellinger
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 UrbanWordNYCand asa 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.
About the Congressional Black Caucus Emerging Leaders Japan Exchange Program
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 KakehashiProject” 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.