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Education Students from Brentwood Campus Visit Mosque, Holocaust Museum as Part of New Cultural Diversity Course

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Morgan Lyle,Assistant Director of Public Relations
LIU Brentwood,
Long Island University
516-299-4177

A unique master's-level course at the Brentwood Campus of Long Island University is breaking the traditional boundaries of the classroom in an effort to help students grasp the changing cultural issues facing today's Long Island.

Rather than sit in a lecture hall, students taking the master's-level course "Diversity and Socio-Cultural Issues in Counseling" journey to a different site on Long Island each Saturday to experience an exhibit or participate in a discussion specific to the site and the minority community it represents. Field trips during the six-week class during the Spring semester included visits to a Selden Mosque, the Shinnecock Reservation on the East End, the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth organization in Bay Shore and an Afro-American Baptist Church in Central Islip. In the spirit of learning and understanding more about other cultural populations on Long Island, students also visited the Holocaust Museum at Suffolk County Community College.

The class, which is based at the Brentwood Campus, is required for students enrolled in the M.S. programs in School Counselor and Mental Health Counseling in the Department of Counseling and Development.

"Students are taking a hands-on approach to learn how to help deal with issues related to minority populations on Long Island," said Dr. Paul Ciborowski, the course instructor and a professor in the Department of Counseling and Development. He also is the co-chair of the Suffolk County Executive's Inter-Faith Anti-Bias Task Force. "Population-wise, Long Island is becoming more diverse and it is our hope that we will help future counselors understand the cultures of the diverse populations that they will be assisting," he said.

The response from the students has been overwhelmingly positive. "This is an incredible way to learn about and understand different cultures," said Jennifer Schmitt, an English teacher at Newfield High School in Selden who will be completing her degree in Mental Health Counseling this summer. "We are learning more than just the basics. We're learning about the way people live, what is acceptable in their culture and in turn, it's making us open our eyes to more than one viewpoint."

The lessons these students are learning are timely. Census Bureau data shows that Long Island's population continues to grow more racially and culturally diverse.

"We are learning how our population is changing now and how it will be changing in the future," said Tracey Iorio, a Patchogue resident who has worked in higher education for 18 years and is working toward her M.S. degree. Iorio signed on for the class when she heard about the format and hopes to impart the lessons she is learning when she becomes a school counselor.

The Brentwood Campus of Long Island University offers a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling that prepares students for New York State licensure as a mental health counselor and a Master's degree in School Counselor that prepares students for New York State certification as a school counselor. For more information, call 631-273-5112 or visit the Web site at www.liu.edu/brentwood.

Posted 03/12/2007

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