Encountering Cultures Here and Abroad
Carlsky Belizaire, the son of Haitian immigrants, has always been drawn to Asia. "I'm intrigued by exploring different cultures, different people, different languages," he says. "I'm thoroughly American, but I'm used to a Caribbean culture and western philosophies, so it's great to see how the other half of the world lives."
As an undergraduate at Macaulay Honors College at Queens College, Belizaire used Macaulay's Opportunity Fund for winter-session study in China and Japan. Graduating with a B.A. in political science, he intends to explore another Asian nation, Taiwan, in greater depth with a 2015 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
"I'll be jumping into the deep, because I haven't studied Mandarin," he says. "I'm going to learn as much as I can before I leave."
Belizaire foresees a career at the intersection of government and politics, possibly with a degree in law or public policy.
Through Macaulay, as a freshman he interned in the Brooklyn District Attorney's Vehicular Crimes Unit, helping with trial preparation.
In the summer after his junior year, he interned in the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) through CUNY's Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Program in government and public affairs. "It broadened my life goals. It was life-changing."
During his senior year, he joined the CUNY Service Corps to work at the Urban Justice Center, a nonprofit anti-poverty agency that provides legal and advocacy services to vulnerable New Yorkers. "I help the attorneys. Now we're filing cases against the New York City Housing Authority, which hasn't made critical repairs in some of its buildings," he says. He also has helped with grant writing and done community outreach, spreading the word about free legal clinics.
He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, received a John "Tito" Gerassi Memorial Award from Queens College’s Political Science Department and was in Macaulay Honors College’s Hertog Scholars Program, which explores the human condition through multidisciplinary seminars that immerse students in the great works in literature.
Belizaire says his sensitivity to the needs of other people was heightened through Queens College's Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding. "I'm a dialogue fellow [facilitator] in discussions we host on campus on tough issues, like Arab-Israeli conflicts, race relations in the United States and the identities society places on us," he explains. "Our point is to bring together people of various cultures and ideas so that we can have constructive and safe conversations."