My motivation for participating in the Institute was to explore diversity and inclusion through the lens of a country that has witnessed the depths of racial oppression and yet, despite everything, has emerged as a global voice for racial equality. I gained more confidence in my leadership skills and learned both with and from the cohort in immeasurable ways. The degree to which we made ourselves vulnerable and immediately established complete trust was a thing of beauty to see emerge and evolve. This bond allowed each of us to be 100% present for each other – quite rare in the average workplace – and unequivocally support the work we were all in Cape Town to do.
The immersive Institute moved far beyond the context of theory and praxis and into the lived experience of those with whom we were fortunate to meet and engage with. I was able to simultaneously explore and experience being an international student, scholar, educator, peer, and administrator with colleagues from across the country I would have otherwise never met (who have become friends) in a space that required no explanation of why and (or all) of it mattered. The process of developing a Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan and the interactions with colleagues will continue to be a part of my life well beyond the scope of my professional role.
I was interested in learning how I could promote and advance international education on our campus. Participating in this journey to South Africa gave me the opportunity to walk in a study abroad student’s shoes and meet talented professionals committed to advancing global education. I plan to be more vocal on how we serve underrepresented students in education abroad at our university.
I am launching a global fellowship program aimed at providing leadership development for college students with disabilities to South Africa. By participating in the Institute, I was able to draw upon the wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise from the cohort to increase my understanding of effective programs abroad. As an emerging professional in the field of international education, I am grateful to have strengthened my networks and forged new collaborations with South African universities, NGOs, and peers.
Participating in the Institute provided me with an opportunity to experience the world through the eyes of an education abroad student. I felt challenged and supported by the cohort of professionals in the Institute and by South African colleagues and students that we engaged with. It was a safe space to thoughtfully explore difficult topics and get “real” about diversity, equity and inclusion issues that matter.
The Institute provided me with an opportunity to organically and genuinely connect through instances of personal and professional reflection which created a space for brave and challenging dialogue; we could be honest, unscripted, and intentional in our time together. The facilitated workshops permitted each of us an opportunity to connect with the material in a global context while analyzing it from our individual perspectives, and then synthesize it from a more universally objective perspective. I authentically engaged with the material and have gained knowledge that I can actually operationalize at our university.