Edmonds Community College expanded its horizons by sending seven students, two staff members and one faculty member to the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) held at the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein, South Africa from July 5-17.
More than 100 international delegates from various universities in Asia, the United States, and Europe, as well as 40 student delegates from the University of the Free State were in attendance.
Edmonds Community College was the only community college in attendance at the GLS.
The international conference was an exchange of ideas and experiences regarding diversity, racism, racial integration, social justice, and reconciliation within the higher education system. Panel discussions and workshops focused on gender issues, citizenship and leadership, race relations, and interfaith leadership.
Keynote speakers included: Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, professor at the UFS; Zelda la Grange, former private secretary to Nelson Mandela; and Donna Walker-Kuhne, Vice President for Marketing at New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
Dr. Tonya Drake, Edmonds Community College Vice President for College Relations and Advancement; Marisa DuBois, Edmonds Community College Director of ABE and ESL Student Services; and Gem Baldwin, Edmonds Community College anthropology instructor and seven Edmonds Community College students were all in attendance.
Drake and Baldwin presented on deconstructing race. “I felt a level of honor and privilege to be presenting at the GLS,” Drake said.
How did Drake describe her experience at the GLS? “I loved that South Africa was intentional about building community and that is something I strive to continue to build here at Edmonds CC.”
The students were placed into cohorts where they debriefed and debated after lectures to deconstruct what they had heard and experienced.
The cohorts also created videos about leadership and diversity. The videos were then judged and cohort one won for best video.
“My time at the Global Leadership Summit completely opened my eyes to many shared social justice issues between South Africa and the U.S.,” said Andrew Ruiz, Edmonds Community College student. “Beyond the lectures, hearing real stories from South Africans and how the stories shaped their lives was my greatest take away from the Global Leadership Summit.”
DuBois is responsible for the relationship between Edmonds Community College and the UFS. In 2012, DuBois went to Bloemfontein as a visiting student affairs scholar, to support the Leadership For Change (LFC) initiative. As a result of DuBois’s visit, Edmonds Community College brought students from UFS here to visit classes, departments and areas within the community in September 2013.
What did DuBois think of the Edmonds Community College students experiences at the GLS? “They were so excited and grateful for the opportunity. Their world has been broken open and I want them to continue that.”
What does the future hold for this beautiful new relationship that has been formed? Edmonds Community College will be hosting students from the UFS in January 2016.