Kennedy Love-Green ’17CPS
When she was accepted to the highly competitive Ozanam Scholars Program at St. John’s University, Kennedy Love-Green ’17CPS felt she was answering a calling.
“I was drawn to St. John’s by God,” Kennedy said.
Ozanam Scholars examine and seek solutions to real-world social justice issues, conduct research, complete a capstone project in their senior year, and travel around the world to serve those in need. Students work to foster change throughout their college careers and beyond.
Becoming a Global Citizen
Determined to make helping others the centerpiece of her St. John’s experience, Kennedy has traveled to service sites in Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Italy, and India. In the process, she says, she became a citizen of the world.
“Global citizenship is more than just words,” said Kennedy, a television and film major. “We must work together to make the world a better place—that’s our global responsibility.”
Kennedy traveled to Puerto Rico with a cohort of approximately 20 fellow scholars. There, she encountered extreme poverty from the moment she stepped off the plane. By planting community gardens, painting murals, and serving in soup kitchens, she became prepared for what she faced next.
In Ecuador, Kennedy encountered physical challenges that tested her endurance. “Breaking down a basketball court with sledgehammers in a Shuar community, near the town of Limón, so a town hall could be built was incredibly hard work,” she said.
“In Italy,” Kennedy added, “the women we helped to practice the English language wanted to know as much about me as I did about them. I realized that we have a lot more in common than what separates us. It’s the place where I really began to understand how truly connected the world is.”
A Mental Test
Kennedy said the “psychological challenge” of India was her greatest hurdle. Traveling with eight fellow scholars, she experienced bigotry for the first time in her life. “When discrimination reared its ugly head,” she noted, “I had to make a choice.”
In India, fashion ads favor light-skinned or white women, and skin-lightening lotion is prominently displayed on store shelves. That bias became painfully clear to Kennedy, who is African American, at a local restaurant where waiters served other customers before her. “That’s when I actually felt ostracized,” she said.
Instead of letting anger fester within, Kennedy chose to concentrate on the good she encountered during the trip. “If I’d let myself focus on the negative,” she said, “I wouldn’t have been able to understand the reasons for the way I was treated. I focused on the ideals that cause people to do the things they do, whether consciously or unconsciously, and decided to target the ideologies that resulted in my negative experience, not the person who committed the action. I was rewarded by the beautiful smiles of the local children and their love for each other.”
“What I learned from my experiences,” Kennedy concluded, “is that global citizenship means love.”