Global Citizenship Award recipients announced for 2008-09

Global Citizenship Award recipients announced for 2008-09

From the International Programs Matrix

The International Programs Matrix congratulates the following 2008-09 Global Citizenship Award recipients. They are recognized for their commitment to international and intercultural awareness throughout the UST community, their contributions to improve the climate for other people of other cultures at UST, and the connections they make between the UST community and the world.

Thank you to everyone who nominated someone for this award and to every member of the St. Thomas community who is committed to global issues and understanding. The awards were presented at the annual GMSA International Dinner April 25.

Student award: Timothy Bettis

Sophomore Timothy Bettis is described as having "an eager appetite to learn about worldwide cultures." He has shown particular interest and engagement with issues related to the Middle East and Muslim students. His extra-curricular activities include participation in the Council on Middle Eastern Studies, the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center and the Muslim Student Association at St. Kate's. His work with the Muslim Student Association was focused on improving U.S. students' understanding of Ramadan and other Muslim holidays.

Recently, Bettis studied Arabic in Lebanon, and that experience opened his mind to a more global perspective of thinking as he worked to better understand the cultures, religions, language and values of people in that part of the world – while also helping to foster an understanding of American values.

He has engaged actively with international students at St. Thomas and the international community in St. Paul. Last year, he volunteered off campus as a reading tutor for Hmong and Somali students in the community. On campus, he has participated in the Friendship Family program for the past two years, having hosted both German and French students. He also has developed lasting friendships with international students from Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ireland, Taiwan, France, China, Japan, Ecuador and Brazil. Bettis is recognized with this award for his consistent efforts to bridge cultural barriers on and off campus.

Staff award: Helen Kuruvilla, Binz Refectory

If you've ever enjoyed a meal at the Binz Refectory on south campus, you just might know Helen Kuruvilla, who is originally from India. Kuruvilla came to the United States more than 10 years ago when her sons came to study in St. Paul. She applied for and received a job at the Binz and has worked there also for more than 10 years. Her youngest son, Ipe, is a graduate of St. Thomas.

The person who nominated Kuruvilla says that she has endless love and inclusiveness for everyone she meets. She always helps people out, especially people from other countries. She knows firsthand how very difficult this can be. Every day she sees people from different countries and cultures, and she is the warmth and "home" these people need to feel comfortable and respected at UST.

Another special thing about Kuruvilla is that she is an incredibly talented cook, and she brings her cooking skills and unique Indian style to her work in the Binz Refectory. She shares her culture and knowledge with the UST community through her cooking. One of her co-workers says, “[She] may be tucked back in a tiny corner of campus (the Binz) but her skill, dedication and the respect she shows to everyone make her the brightest star on the south side of UST."

Faculty award: Dr. Richard Rexeisen, Marketing Department

Dr. Richard Rexeisen, or "Rex" as his students call him, has been a longtime business faculty member at St. Thomas. He has served as faculty director for the London Business Semester four different years since 2000, and will be serving again in the fall of 2009. He was nominated for this award because of his work with and dedication to the London Business Semester study abroad program, and for his incredible work mentoring and advising the students that participate in the program.

He has traveled extensively and uses the knowledge he has gained to help his students view their local communities as global. His colleagues say that he helps students integrate their semesters abroad into their college careers in a holistic way. He models a high level of cultural sensitivity, which helps his students learn how to navigate the challenging situations they often find themselves in while living and studying in another country.

Aside from his work with the London Business Semester, his current scholarship and research is focused on intercultural development and cross-cultural training. He also has been recognized by Father John Malone, vice president for mission, for "making our campus a better place to learn for the students."