Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cultivating Global Competency in our Bountiful Local Borough

Cultivating Global Competency in our Bountiful Local Borough
By Scott B. Freiberger

Although evolving state education policy may at times seem more peculiar than the Pirates of Penzance, perspicacious parents and select students perceive the increasing importance of global competency. Living, studying, or working abroad may enhance portfolios as admissions personnel at leading schools and universities tend to favor increased exposure to diversity and apposite international undertakings. Invariably, in today's cutting-edge economy, keen comprehension of distinct languages and cultures generally leads to greater achievements. Yet instead of spending countless thousands to study wayward sheep in New Zealand or venturing overseas to research regal respites, consider delving into the abundance of international opportunities that exist at home. What better way to strengthen scholastic skills and prepare for a successful career than international immersion right in the heart of Queens?

At the collegiate level, Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY) offers an “Abroad in Queens” program that introduces students to different national cultures and immigrant communities in Queens, said to be the most diverse borough in the United States. According to the Syllabus, the program capitalizes on the “uniquely global qualities of Queens to immerse students in Chinese, Korean, Hispanic, Indian, Caribbean,” or other immigrant communities. By experiencing international languages and cultures in a local setting, the program aims for students to develop workplace skills while fostering lifelong connections to draw upon after graduation. For more information please contact

(Photo credit: Queens College Syllabus)

Queens College students can enroll “Abroad in Queens” to study
international languages and cultures in a local setting.

Culinary instructor and experienced educator John Gonzalez at nearby P.S. 20Q John Bowne Elementary School elaborates on how the diversity of Queens, New York not only thrives, but is also celebrated, in his classroom. “As both a chef and an educator, I am constantly looking for ways to upgrade my skills and hone my craft. I can draw inspiration for my culinary creations from the rich international cornucopia of flavors found locally, and impart knowledge from a global perspective to my students by incorporating the diverse languages and cultures that thrive right here at home.” 

(Photo credit: John Gonzalez)
Culinary instructor and experienced educator John Gonzalez draws
inspiration from “the rich cornucopia of flavors” and diversity abundant
in Queens.

A similar multicultural mindset pervades at Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) (華人埠策劃协會) ( In Queens, CPC improves the welfare of children at P.S. 20Q, where more than 1,400, mainly Chinese-speaking, students are enrolled at the respected local elementary school. According to the CPC website, the organization provides “services, skills and resources towards economic self-sufficiency.” The diverse staff is also reflective of the multiethnic school community, as Mandarin, Cantonese, Fujianese, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, and Spanish are spoken. CPC programs include early childhood, school-aged child care, youth, senior, and community services, as well as workforce development. At P.S. 20Q, contact Lois Lee at (718) 358-8899 x 120; after 2:30pm: (718) 358-8899/7602.

(Photo credit: CPC website)
Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) improves the welfare of children 
by providing “services, skills, and resources towards economic self-sufficiency.” 

To better understand bestial behavior and experience a true walk on the wild side, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the site of two World's Fairs, boasts the quaint Queens Zoo ( Discover wonderful waterfowl, sleek sea lions, burly bison, peculiar pudu deer, an amazing aviary, and the author's favorite, Andean bear that may appear more animated than a Brazilian dance contest. The zoo is comprised of 18 acres of well-manicured lush green terrain and makes for a pleasant respite from the trappings of any concrete jungle. General admission is $8.00, $5.00 for children (3-12), and $6.00 for seniors (parking fee additional; 53-51 111th Street, Corona, New York 11368 / 718-271-1500).

(Photo credit: Queens Zoo website)
The quaint Queens Zoo makes for a pleasant respite from the trappings of any concrete jungle.

Literally a stone's throw from the paw of an Andean bear at Queens Zoo and also found at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is New York Hall of Science (, a renowned museum boasting 450 atypical activities, deft demonstrations, exotic exhibits, and wondrous, hands-on workshops. According to its interactive website, NYSCI was established during the 1964-65 World's Fair and “offers professional development for teachers, produces curricula and resources for classrooms, and studies how technology, gaming, and play affect how we learn.” A visit makes for a veritably vivid learning experience for any afternoon explorer. General admission is $15.00 for adults and $12.00 for children (2-17), seniors, and students (47-01 111th Street, Corona, New York 11368 / 718-699-0005).

(Photo credit: New York Hall of Science website)
New York Hall of Science boasts 450 atypical activities, deft demonstrations, 
exotic exhibits, and wondrous, hands-on workshops. 

Gourmands the world over also appreciate cool Queens confections. In the vicinity is the original Lemon Ice King of Corona (, which has been tantalizing tastebuds for over 60 years. You may mix your music and New York memorabilia, but no mixing of flavors is permitted at this veritable ice institution recommended locally, nationally, and internationally. These famous flavors may appear familiar, as Lemon Ice King of Corona is featured prominently on the hit comedic TV show, “The King of Queens” (52-02 108th Street, Corona, New York, 11368 / 718-699-5193).

(Photo credit: Lemon Ice King of Corona website)
Lemon Ice King of Corona may appear familiar, as this veritable ice institution 
is featured prominently on the hit comedic TV show, “The King of Queens.”

Specked around town, local libraries have the potential to foster the educational and emotional growth of future leaders and become indispensable community learning partners. Queens Library at Flushing ( (41-17 Main Street / 718-661-1200) is a particularly pleasant place to either unwind with good reads or partake in progressive, culturally-relevant educational programs for families, young children, teens, or adults. Literally teeming with intellectual life from avid reading enthusiasts, this large-scale library has digitized most magazines and periodicals, so the latest in research and technology is available anytime at your fingertips. At the same singular spot, patrons may now also frequent modern media, teen, cyber, and quiet rooms. Visit a local library to advance in academia, kickstart a career, or simply relax with a good book.


(Photo credit: Queens Library website)
Specked around town, local libraries have the potential to foster the educational 
and emotional growth of future leaders and become indispensable community learning partners.

Naturally, Queens cuisine is as distinctly diverse as its colorful population. Restaurants run the gamut from African, Chinese, and Croatian to Greek, Latin American and Thai, and you'll likely discover more great options than Trade Station and Interactive Brokers offer in their elaborate investment arsenals (but those are separate articles).

For an abundance of traditional Chinese art, language, and culture, consider a visit to the New York Taiwan Center (纽约台灣會館) ( Established in 1986, Taiwan’s first self-financed community center in the United States boasts a serene senior center, sensational speakers, and insightful activities that help bridge cultural gaps. Discover both historic and contemporary Chinese culture, fine arts, respectable recreation, and community-sponsored educational events. New York Taiwan Center’s active members also partake in physical and mental health activities, lunch and leisure courses, as well as informative seminars.

(Photo credit: New York Taiwan Center website)
Consider delving into traditional Chinese art, language, and culture at 
New York Taiwan Center.

New York Taiwan Center elaborates on what may seem Byzantine to many. It provides valuable information on social welfare benefits and hosts immigration law lecturers, talented choirs, outstanding operas, magnificent musical performances, and dynamic dance teams from Taiwan. Community and educational programs include children’s rhythmic gymnastics and adult education courses. Delve into traditional ink painting, master tai chi, or become immersed in lively folk dances or intense yoga instruction. At your leisure, peruse a choice collection of Taiwanese books, magazines, and newspapers. 

Other community organizations also actively cooperate with the New York Taiwan Center to provide residents with better services. For example, the Korean Community Center of Greater New York (KCS) has co-organized vocational training, informational activities, and continuing education, such as free English classes. In addition, along with the North American Taiwanese Medical Association (NATMA), New York Taiwan Center (137-44 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, New York 11354) offers a free clinic once a year for general diagnosis.  “The Taiwan Center has been an integral part of the Queens, New York community since 1986,” commented President Esther Lin. “While our programs may change slightly over time, our quintessential mission remains the same, to enhance and sustain the well-being of the general public, including Taiwanese Americans and people from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, by providing accessible cultural, outstanding educational, and important human services,” she added. Volunteers can be reached Monday through Saturday at (718) 445-7007 or by e-mail: You can also follow New York Taiwan Center activities and events on Facebook:

Indeed, a visit to Queens in the heart of New York City can be more than a simple sojourn to likable local attractions. For many, our borough that brims with brio not only brings a distinct break from the bland, but it also fosters global friendships, improves intercultural communication, and ignites a love of learning that may last a lifetime.

See you at Citi Field.