Polisci student Sabina Mamedova share her life experiences as part of the Immigrant Project at the Democracy at Work series at ECSU

By Sabina Mamedova

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The Performance at the Immigrant Project

The Democracy at Work series at ECSU included political views, artistic talents and information before the presidential election. There were a variety of events such as drawing cartoons about candidates, lectures and debates, and even students dressed in candidate costumes. As a political refugee it was not hard for me to share my story for the Immigrant Project because of my experiences in Russia and being deported to the United States without speaking any English. My advantage in a major project like this was that I am a theater major while also studying politics. Before the event I already had a memoir, which was turned into a script and play informally called “The Sabina Project”. The play involved Syrian refugees’ stories and crises, which brings awareness about them and asks what are we doing to stop these crises and how are we helping. I was deported twice and am the grandchild of refugee survivors, their stories started during World War II when Stalin uprooted them from their land. My great-grandparents did not know any country but Georgia, however, they were exiled just because they practiced a different religion and belonged to a different ethnic group than that of the majority of people living in Georgia.

The narrative of the Sabina Project starts on November 14, 1944, when Stalin exiled the Ahiskan or Meskhetian Turks from Georgia due to ethnic cleansing and religious persecution, under the excuse that my people were collaborating with the Nazis. My people were exiled into five different countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Siberia and Turkey. The cold journey continued for several weeks causing people to die in freezing temperatures. My great-grandparents died as soon as they arrived in Uzbekistan where I was born. Most healthy men were sent to serve the Soviet army and, when some returned, they could not find their exiled families. Some families were not reunited until 1956, more precisely after Stalin’s death. In 1989, my people were deported from Uzbekistan to Russia due to ethnic cleansing. In 2005, my people were deported again due to ethnic cleansing and religious discrimination in Russia to the United States. So the play starts with an introduction of my journey and expands to a narration of the Syrian refugee crisis. It explains how the Syrian civil war started from small riots and soon became a great catastrophe.

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Polisci student Sabina Mamedova sharing her life story as a political refugee.

In the play, five different narrators read the historical parts of my memoir and blend with the story of journalists’ experiences about the Syrian civil war and the refugees leaving the country while hoping to survive. Through the play, dancers interpret the ongoing narration and their movements relate to my story and to that of many Syrians. There is also music that creates an appropriate atmosphere while the narrators and performers are on stage. Part of the play also includes videos of me being interviewed on sensitive subjects about my life in Russia. Overall, the play blends art and my personal history as a refugee.

Teaching in France: The Value of International Experiences

By Sabreena Croteau (Class of 2015)

Over the summer, I was excited to find out that I had been accepted to the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) in the Academie de Lille, which is the education district of France’s northernmost province, Nord-Pas-de-Calais. As I had always intended to take a gap year before graduate school, I was very excited for this opportunity to live in another country, learn the language, and get to know the community around me. I have not been placed in Lille, the city center of the north, but rather, in a really small town, Beuvry, which is about forty minutes outside the city by train. It is situated next to Bethune, which is a slightly larger town, as far as the north is concerned. This area of the north shares many characteristics with the post-industrial old mill towns of New England, including Willimantic. The area’s prime industry used to be mining. Today, all the mines have closed, but there is little alternative economic interest in the cloudy north and these small town struggle to have enough jobs and bring in various businesses. However, unlike New England, the immigrant populations are rather small, though they most certainly are growing.

            I have found the people in the area to be kinder and friendlier than my experiences when I studied in Paris, and of course, far far better than all of the American stereotypes about the French. Though, of course, there are some perceptions that are not entirely off. Baguettes are a daily necessity here, I will have four vacation over my seven months staying here, and I have been handed a glass of wine in the teachers’ lounge more than once. I am very grateful with how patient I find most people to be as I stumble through a conversation in French and living in the north has made it more necessary to speak French than when I lived in Paris. Between the teachers and my school and my housemates, I am forced to try and it has already lead to improvement even if my accent is horrific.

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Smiling Sabreena (back left) with international and French colleagues during a friendly dinner.

            It was certainly interesting to be here for the US election. My teachers are extremely informed about American politics and my French high school students often know more than their average American peer. Despite having an extreme right of their own, talking about politics with French friends and teachers usually ends in a conversation that is extremely bias towards the American left. Honestly, I think this is because, having a completely different left to right spectrum… the American right is simply difficult for them to understand. I often find myself trying to explain the history and characteristics of the United States that has resulted in the spectrum that we have. I think that they are particularly curious given Brexit and the rise of conservatism in their own country. In many ways, I think I have learned a great deal about American politics by getting to look at through the eyes of foreigners and by having to try to explain our system to them.

            This is also true of the other language assistants that live in Bethune. Though there are other Americans, I am the only one from not just New England, but also from the east coast. Despite always knowing that the US is very different depending on the region, it is interesting to see those differences at play. It has definitely made me want to experience more of my own country and has also made me appreciate some of my experiences that are distinctly New England. However, there are also English language assistants from Canada, Britain and Australia, as well as Spanish language assistants from Latin American countries, the two I see the most are Mexican and Venezuelan. Besides learning French culture and French experiences, I also get the experiences of perspectives of those from other countries as well. When all of the assistants and some of our French housemates get together for dinner… or meet at the bar… it often becomes a trilingual event.

            Out of all the assistants I know, I am the only person who studied political science at university. Most are studying languages, a few languages and history. Some even had jobs as language teachers where they come from. Teaching English to French teenagers does not necessarily relate directly to my political science career goals. I get asked all the time why I wanted to do this. However, I think that the experience as a whole is invaluable to my overall goals. Besides learning another language, I also have the opportunity to build friendships and have conversations that teach me new things, not only about other countries, but also about my own. I think it is an important part of studying political science to be exposed to all sorts of other perspectives and allow them to challenge your own.

The Economic Value of a Political Science Major

By Joshua Newhall

JoshEvery year Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce releases a comprehensive analysis of the economic benefits of the 137 most typical college majors, titled “The Economic Value of College Majors.” The 2015 report shows that a major in political science can lead to a highly prospective career. While social sciences, as a major subgroup, comprises a mere 6.9% of all college degrees, this report reveals that political science and government studies are actually the 15th most prevalent major course of study, making up nearly two percent of all college degrees being earnt.

After earning their degree, political science majors fair very well when beginning their careers, earning a median income of $64,000 yearly at entry level jobs. This made political science tie with chemistry, geosciences and consumer services as the 50th most profitable major at an entry level position. This ranking makes political science one of the more profitable college majors to receive a bachelor’s degree in compared to all 137 majors featured in this study. Entry level income in this field is already strong, but the prospect of a long term career in a social science has a 44% wage growth rate, making political science one of the best social sciences for long term success. Along with this, political science was ranked as the 12th best degree to receive a graduate degree in, with yearly earnings increasing by 50% on average after graduate school. This explains why just under half of political science majors go on to graduate school, since this extra education can help lead to a flourishing career.

Median Income of Social Science Graduates

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Information from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce’s “The Economic Value of College Majors.”

The graph above shows the national median incomes for entry level jobs in the top fields of social sciences. This graph makes it clear that economics and political science have the largest economic returns amongst the social sciences, especially when considering how valuable graduate degrees in these fields are.

Aside from the clear economic benefits of a political science major that were presented in this year’s report from Georgetown University, there are also many pros to this field of study that are not quantifiable. A degree in a social science appeals to an individual interested in understanding how aggregate human behavior and society works. While a degree in STEM or business may provide a relatively higher wage after graduation it does not provide its workers with the same level of fulfillment that comes from the human interaction and public service that social sciences are founded on. A degree in political science in particular can provide an individual the necessary education to begin a career in numerous fields including government, public administration, law, international relations, business and many more. This means that a political science major is incredibly diverse compared to most majors, which allows its graduates to seek a career that is more meaningful and specialized to their interests.

Life after Eastern… and a good one!

By Dale Thompson

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Tall Dale in the back with heavy weight democrats Nancy Pelosi and Joe Courtney.

Graduation night was one of the scariest nights of my life. Walking across a stage in front of thousands did not bother me, as many professors can attest that I love the spotlight. It was the thought of what now? I had spent my entire life up to that point in classrooms, working side jobs and just grinding along. Now it was time to actually start my career, which I wasn’t sure I was prepared for!

Lucky for me I graduated during a campaign year, so there were many jobs out there. I had recently finished my internship at the Connecticut General Assembly, so I had many people I could call and beg for work. I had no idea that I was going to get a call back to work for the Democratic State Party. The party asked if I was interested in being a Regional Field Organizer, meaning I would be given a section of the state to oversee

Dale with democratic candidate for congress Joe Courtney

Dale with democratic candidate for congress Joe Courtney.

and coordinate a multitude of field events for any and all candidates running for office in my area. Due to where I was placed, I had the pleasure  of working along side the likes

of Congressman Joe Courtney, State Senator Mae Flexer, and many others. I have learned so much from this campaign, and I still have many days left! When I sat down for my first class at ECSU four years ago I had no idea I would end up here. I am so thankful for everything I learned from our great Poli-Sci Department!

So, if you’re a senior reading this blog, wondering where you’re going to end up in May, just know that you have the skills to go far, probably even farther then me! While Eastern may not be the biggest school in the state, it definitely prepares you for the real world. Do not worry about a thing, you are going to be fine.

Dale campaigning in Connecticut

Dale campaigning in Connecticut.

Professors Martín Mendoza-Botelho and Ricardo Pérez (Sociology) interviewed for Hispanic Heritage Month at the Wayne Norman Show

Willi RadioSptember 15 to October 15 has been designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month by Congress. The main purpose of this period is to celebrate the contribution of Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean cultures and societies to American society in the U.S. This observation started in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period and was enacted into law on August 17.

As part of the celebrations the Wayne Norman show of WILI-AM radio invited Professors Ricardo Pérez (Sociology) and Martín Mendoza-Botelho to comment on the importance of this celebration. The interview also includes comments on the current presidential race and the intention of some of the candidates to build a wall to prevent South-North migration to the U.S. Both guests agreed on the lack of viability or practically of this measure and the risks that this type of inflamed rhetoric brings to American democracy. You can access the interview at the Wayne Norman Show Webpage (click here).

Student utilizes Skype technology for internship with international non-profit

By Adam Murphy

Adam at work and in the middle of a Skype session with high level industry managers worldwide.

Adam at work and in the middle of a Skype session with high level industry managers worldwide.

This summer was spent working as an intern for the international development organization, Katerva. The organization serves as a platform to provide recognition and consultation to technologies and startups relating to sustainable development, specifically targeting innovation that will help raise the quality of life in the developing world. Each year Katerva presents awards for different areas of environmentally friendly innovations, often referred to as “The Nobel Prize of Sustainability”. The award provides recognition and credibility for new ideas to receive needed investment so their technology can be implemented on a larger scale. Katerva serves the mission of connecting innovations with investors for a great cause.

My task as a researcher is to spot new technologies out of top research universities and analyze the potential value for the developing world. This is not an internship of pushing paperwork or getting coffee, but instead an inside look into non-profit management, international development and business intelligence. Starting the internship in June and working through until December, work is completed remotely, by searching through research news and creating reports on potential technologies. I’ve had the opportunity to become well acquainted with the office of technology transfer at several leading universities, and exchanged dialogues with leading experts and professors from around the country. This internship with Katerva has had me conducting skype calls with researchers in the Netherlands in the morning, exchanging emails with a Professor from UC Berkeley at lunch, and reading academic journals about the new age of efficient batteries in the afternoon. Skype has allowed me to quickly connect with researchers from around the world to produce meaningful analysis for new technologies and ideas. All of this has been a great learning experience and I look forward to continuing through the year.

Katerva

Polisci Students present their research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) 2016

By Alaina Torromeo

Sabreena Croteau presents her findings on U.S. - Saudi Arabia relations

Sabreena Croteau commenting on U.S. – Saudi Arabia relations.

On April 7-9 three of Eastern’s Polisci students Alexandra Cross, Sabreena Croteau, and Erin Drouin presented their research at the 30th Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of North Carolina Asheville. Eastern had 11 students accepted, a prestigious honor considering that the selection process was so competitive, with over 4,000 submissions. According to the conference “…the work of the students accepted to present at this conference demonstrated a unique contribution to their field of study.”

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Alex Cross discussing issues of Russian nationalism and homophobia.

Alex’s paper (mentor Dr. Martín Mendoza-Botelho) “Straightening Out the Russian Mold: How Russian Nationalism Intersects with Homophobia,” focused on how the government of this country has entangled homophobia and nationalism. Sabreena (mentor Dr. Caitlin Carenen History) presented her Honors Thesis, “Influence and Interference: U.S. Foreign Policy towards Saudi Arabia 1956-1971.” Her work examines the beginnings of the U.S.-Saudi alliance, looking to uncover how the U.S. government felt about the relationship and how the American populace felt about it. Erin’s research (mentor Dr. Nicole Krassas) “From Tradition to Twitter: An Analysis of Traditional Media and Social Media Coverage of Sexual Assault on College Campuses” explores the use of modern media in contentious issues.

Erin Drouin presenting her findings on the use of new media in current social issues.

Erin Drouin presenting her findings on the use of new media in current social issues.

Eastern Professor Carlos Escoto, who attended the Conference with this group commented that “…the ability of Eastern students to learn from the work of other students from across the country is informative.” He remarked that there is something invigorating about the ability for students to participate in a conference of this size and to interact with other student scholars. Research and scholarly activity are seen as desirable skills by employers and graduate schools and presenting your research at a national conference is seen as a culminating activity.

Polisci student Alexandra Cross is the 2016 student recipient of the Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award

By Alaina Torromeo

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Proud recipient Alex poses with her mom.

On March 30, 2016 Polisci student Alexandra Cross received the Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award at an Awards Ceremony held in the Student Center Theater. Alex received the award for her hard work and dedication with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered + community (LGBT+) on campus. Alex Safe Zone Trained faculty and staff, helped run the Pride Alliance Organization, worked with the American Association of University Professors against an unfair contract suggested by the Board of Regents in Connecticut, and most importantly, helped create the new Pride Center that will open this summer.

When asked about how she felt to receive the award Alex stated, “I have never felt so appreciated on campus before. Much of the work that I have done was behind the scenes and without too much recognition.” In regards to how this award will influence her future Alex said, “It will stand as a very real reminder that the work I do, and that the work everyone does in the name of equity, is worthwhile and important.”

Congratulations Alex, keep up the good work!

Eastern College Democrats sponsor a voter registration drive

By Adam Michael Murphy
ECSU College Democrats President

voter registrationElection season is upon on! Eastern College Democrats held two voter registration drives in the past few weeks encouraging people to vote in the primary on April 26th. A total of over 90 voter registration forms were filled out and collected throughout the weeks! The registration drives received great feedback from the community and it was wonderful to see so many people want to become engaged in this election. This election is more important than ever for students and other members of Eastern’s campus to get involved and learn about the candidates, who they want to vote for in the general election. In recent elections, the primary here in CT never received this much fervor and anticipation because our primary is later in the process, but this year the primary is receiving a lot of enthusiasm.

            These events went along with the mission of the club to promote civic engagement and raise awareness of political issues on Eastern’s campus. A few other events sponsored by College Democrats this year were Dominoes for Democracy, and hearing from local elected officials about issues facing our state. College Democrats even collaborated with the Conservative and Libertarian club this past semester to hold a Bipartisan Bake sale where we simultaneously help a straw poll for students to pick a candidate they would like to support. Similar events can be expected to be seen next semester as the general election for president get closer in an attempt to raise the political awareness students have for important issues.