New Perspectives: Global LEAD Ecuador

In 2012, OU launched a new partnership with Global LEAD, an immersive nonprofit study abroad program that combines the principles of leadership, education, adventure and diplomacy into five-week trips to countries scattered around the globe. Created by dynamic entrepreneurs who have a heart for service and a spirit of adventure, Global LEAD is a program for young people, run by young people. Global LEAD aims to “transform the trajectory of individuals’ lives through leadership service and personal development,” – a mission that aligns with Oglethorpe’s goal for its students.
The unique program includes two weeks of classroom learning, two weeks of service learning, and one week of adventure. Oglethorpe serves as the academic coordinator for the program, approving all academic faculty, syllabi, course pedagogy and materials for the two courses: Leadership in Action and Global Citizenship & Service Learning. All participating students take Oglethorpe University courses within the context of Global LEAD’s programs in Ecuador, Greece and South Africa. Students from universities around the country earn six Oglethorpe credit hours that transfer to students’ home universities.Global LEAD -  Emmanuel, Dr. Chandler, Bri on Equator #2
In July 2013, Oglethorpe students Emmanuel Brantley ’15 and Briana Mongerson ’13 were the first Petrels to benefit from this new partnership. They journeyed to Ecuador alongside 22 students from other universities, led by Oglethorpe’s Dr. Mario Chandler, associate professor of Spanish. During the two weeks of academic instruction, Dr. Chandler taught two courses, developed to meet the requirements and goals of Oglethorpe’s curriculum.

Leadership in Action

The first course focused on teaching core principles of leadership by using the historical context and perspectives of South American peoples. The course, “Leadership in Action,” helped students to settle into the customs of their temporary home by helping them to converse and connect with local people, experience first-hand the daily lives and the history of Ecuadorians. From studying about the sobering history of the enslaved indigenous peoples, to learning how to hail a cab and which foods to order (or not) in restaurants, Global LEAD students were immersed in the culture of the Ecuadorian people in ways that exceeded the limits of textbooks.
“Dr. Chandler gave insight on how to be ‘the mindful traveler’ and impact Ecuador’s culture in a positive direction,” shared Global LEAD student Louise Powers, a junior at the University of Tennessee. “We even had a Survival Spanish class and put this to the test walking to the top of Basilica Del Voto Nacional and at the welcome dinner.”
The leadership training went further, teaching the students to push themselves out of their comfort zones in other ways. “The physical activities, like mountain biking and hiking, allow students to experience what we are talking about in class,” discovered Emmanuel. “It’s not just talking about who you are as a leader, but you are really able to bring what you are learning in class to life. You are leading yourself to be more fearless and to tackle these physical challenges.” Understanding historical and cultural perspectives and how to push themselves to be ‘fearless’ also helped to prepare the students for their coming weeks of service.

Global Citizenship & Service

Students segued into the service learning part of their experience during the second course, “Global Citizenship and Service,” which challenged students to create framework for service projects in Ecuador as well as for their home communities in the U.S.
“Our professor, Dr. Chandler, kicked off the morning with one of his most powerful lessons yet,” wrote Matt Edwards from University of Tennessee in a blog documenting the trip. “After discussing poverty and service in our local [Ecuadorian] communities, we shared problems we see in our own neighborhoods and brainstormed ways we can take action. …The lessons and tools we have been given to spark change and better our world are really becoming evident. It’s truly invigorating to be part of this group of brilliant young minds that is realizing its potential to impact the world.”
Students used what they learned in the classroom to transition into teaching ESL (English as a second language) to young Ecuadorian children. Students volunteered at an institute called Honrar la Vida (honor life), created to help educate, integrate and validate the cultural contributions of black Ecuadorian youth, called afroecuatorianos, who historically have been the victims of discrimination and marginalized in Ecuadorian society.
Students connected with the children of Honor La Vida, teaching them the English alphabet, days of the week, and songs to help them remember animal names. But, it was the children who made the biggest impression.
“Teaching ESL was one of the best learning experiences I have had in a long time,” said Oglethorpe’s Briana Mongerson, who hopes to continue teaching ESL. “I had kids ranging [in age] from 11-15 in the class and we covered the alphabet, colors, days of the week and their names…. Although these kids didn’t have much, they are filled with joy, smiles and hugs. I love the impact that they have made on me and never will forget those beautiful faces from Honar La Vida.”
“Most Global LEAD students come into the week thinking that they are going to give knowledge and time to the local students, but what we end up taking away is the love and gratitude of being able to share in their experience,” explained Carolyn Prebil, Global LEAD’s director of marketing and program director for the Ecuador trip. “It is incredible to see the bonds that form throughout the week despite any cultural or language barriers.”
Emmanuel, who is now serving as a Global LEAD ambassador to encourage other students to participate, agrees. “You hear that other study abroad trips make a big impact, but on this trip we were directly involved and in touch with the people, history and nature of the country—and it really had a life-changing impact.”
Find out more about Global LEAD’s programs at globalleadprogram.org.

The NO Project Seminar on Human Trafficking Awareness at Oglethorpe

NO PROJECT 2

Oglethorpe University will host a seminar by The NO Project, a global anti-slavery public awareness initiative that focuses on the demand for human trafficking and educates through music, the arts, film, dance  and social media.

The free event will be held Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in the Conant Performing Arts Center and is co-sponsored by Oglethorpe University’s A_LAB (Atlanta Laboratory for Learning), Oglethorpe Women’s Network, Global LEAD and The Junior  League of Atlanta, Inc.

The NO ProjectAttendees will enjoy a captivating 90-minute multi-media interactive seminar that presents the truths behind human trafficking. The seminar encourages students—and others—to use their passion, interests, talent and connections to respond and join the fight against modern day slavery. The presentation includes award-winning documentary film clips, world-class animation, music, art and dance, all of which reflect the intelligent, creative, proactive stance that youth, artists and educators are taking to address the crime of modern slavery. The NO Project seminar enables listeners to better understand forced/bonded labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sexual exploitation.

Diamonds by Myra

The NO Project has come a long way from its beginnings at a kitchen table in Athens, Greece. It now operates globally, from Bulgaria to New Zealand, Turkey to the U.S., Romania to the Philippines. Its presentation shows that slavery is often much closer than the average person and consumer realizes, connecting slavery to items that we use and enjoy in our everyday lives. These items include electronics and food like chocolate and shrimp cocktails. While human trafficking is barbaric, violent and overwhelming, The NO Project take an approach to the global crime that is neither depressing nor gloomy.

For more information regarding this event, please go to noproject.oglethorpe.edu.

International Mentoring Program Unites EF and OU Students

That's me in the front with my protege, Max from Germany.

That’s me in the front with my protege, Max from Germany.

In July 2012, Oglethorpe partnered with Education First (EF), an international language provider that allows students to study language and culture in diverse environments around the world, including 14 North American cities. Atlanta is their most recent location.

As the cultural hub of the south, Atlanta is attractive to many international students and the educational and social opportunities in the city have created a surge of interest for EF’s Atlanta campus. Over the past year Oglethorpe’s campus has welcomed dozens of students from China, Germany, Venezuela, Korea, Honduras, and other countries all over the world.

EF protégés and OU mentors meet for the first time at orientation.

EF protégés and OU mentors meet for the first time at orientation.

In response, Oglethorpe has launched an international mentoring program to help provide a welcoming environment and encourage interaction between Oglethorpe and EF students. Led by Campus Life, the program pairs OU and EF students together with the goal of encouraging more opportunities to interact socially and a greater chance to learn from one another. Emmanuel Brantley ’15, an OU student organizer for the program, says “this program is very important because it provides the EF-Atlanta students with what they came to this specific location for—an interactive collegiate learning experience.”

This initial program pilot includes 11 pairs of OU student mentors and EF student protégés. I was paired with Max, a German native in the EF’s University Transition Program, and from our perspective, the pairs were well selected. We are already learning from each other about culture (especially sports) and language—I am studying German and Max is trying to master English. The program is successful in its goal to create more of an opportunity for friendship rather than feeling like a formal partnership.

EFLogo(2)(1)Each pair of students meets once a week to talk about classes and what’s happening in each others’ lives, and have been asked to journal about our experiences to present at the monthly all-member meeting.

EF Mentorship OrlandoDiego Cassy (2)Though these will be the only formal meetings, we’re already started to build networks of friends that are bringing together the EF and OU students. Max, my friends and I have planned trips to basketball games, whitewater rafting, and casual evenings to watch sports, and other partners are beginning to do the same.

The main goal of the program is to lead by example—that students in the program will be role models for mutual understanding about each others’ perspectives, cultures, and experiences. “The international mentoring program is an effort to unify the EF community and the traditional Oglethorpe community,” concluded program leader Robin Brandt, director of experiential learning “and we already have seen successes.”

For me, the program is an opportunity to become a more globally aware individual while simultaneously making my home and school a welcoming place for international students.

OU Professors Talk Aliens with History Channel

It was an unusual assignment.

target-earth-six-sheet-1954

The 1954 sci-fi movie “Target Earth” featured an alien invasion by giant robots.

Oglethorpe’s Dr. John Orme, professor of politics and division chair, and Dr. John Cramer, professor of physics, recently appeared in the H2 channel’s series Target Earth. The show explores topics such as infrastructure, natural resources, and engineering, but with a sci-fi twist: how would aliens view our planet if they were targeting Earth for a takeover?

This 173rd episode in the series, likely named for the 1954 science fiction movie, Target Earth, hypothesizes about what would happen during an alien invasion.

Although the documentary itself seems a bit far-fetched and funny at times, the issues addressed are serious: What would the consequences of an (alien) invasion or biological weapon? What would we do in the event of a world wide black out? What if water sources were attacked? How does nature affect our lives? Ultimately, Dr. Cramer and Dr. Orme offered answers that reflect possible outcomes in the event of any disaster—not simply an alien invasion.

So, why are our professors considered to be experts on alien invasions?

cramer on the green cropped

Dr. Cramer, pictured at the annual Space on the Green, Oglethorpe’s celebration of science.

Dr. Cramer is the author of How Alien Would Aliens Be?, which takes a scientific approach to the potential existence and appearance of extra-terrestrials. His book surmises that since both humans and aliens would be subject to similar physical constraints (vision, hearing, environment), it’s likely that aliens would not be so physically different from us —if they exist. Similarly, Dr. Orme was tapped for his expertise based on his book The Paradox of Peace, which “examines the foundations of peace by using diverse case studies to look at the calculations of political leaders and their reliance on optimism.”

Dr. Orme teaching a politics class in his fabled favorite classroom, simply for the  chalk board.

Dr. John Orme in the classroom.

In the event of an alien invasion, both cite water resources as pivotal. Dr. Cramer believes that water resources would be targeted during an invasion. Dr. Orme suggests that humans’ experience and reaction in natural disasters would likely be repeated in the event of an invasion. For instance, an attack on freshwater sources would elicit similar chaotic responses; water would become worth stealing  and protecting. Patience would wear thin and violence would erupt.

So, while the show itself seemed a bit campy at times, our professors’ professional opinions were credible and based in reality. Plus, it’s pretty cool that our professors were interviewed about aliens.

To watch the documentary, search your TV listings, or purchase the episode and watch it on demand.

OU Museum of Art: “An Academic Treasure Trove”

I have always loved Japanese art. So, when I learned that my Asian Politics class was attending the OU Museum of Art’s Japanese art exhibition as part of learning about Japanese history and culture—I freaked. Two things I love had come together: learning and art.

Yoshida's woodcut "Sending Boats" series especially stood out to Jacob Tadych '14 in Dr. Steen's Japanese Literature class. WHY?

Yoshida’s woodcut “Sending Boats” series especially stood out to me. The series of images depicts the life of traditional Japanese fishermen from the same perspective during different times of day.

Both my class, taught by Dr. Stephen Herschler, and Dr. Robert Steen’s Japanese  Literature class took full advantage of having the exhibition right here on our campus at the beginning of this semester. Jiki to Hanga: Japanese Porcelain and Prints helped our classes see art as a reflection of a culture and current events, and to explore how art is a means through which cultures can exchange ideas with one another.

“Learning is more effective when it is attached to the real world and becomes not just theoretical but experiential as well,” said Dr. Herschler. “It was an incredible opportunity…(and) a truly fabulous way for the Asian Politics class to start the semester, using art to learn about not just different cultures but also philosophy, international commerce, and politics as reflected in the techniques, materials, and aesthetics of specific artistic works.”

Porcelain detail: Artist unknown. Arita, Japan, late 17th century. Collection of Oglethorpe University. Gift of Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson.

Porcelain detail: Artist unknown. Arita, Japan, late 17th century. Collection of Oglethorpe University. Gift of Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson.

Some of the porcelain pieces on view, for example, showed how Western culture influenced Eastern culture. Traditional Japanese art forms are stoic and minimalistic, but that contrasted with the vibrant pieces created by the Japanese for Westerners to display in their Victorian era households.

The displayed works by master printmaker Hiroshi Yoshida gave students a snapshot of Japanese culture in transition from a feudalistic society to the current industrial power. His use of traditional Japanese woodcuts and the European oil and watercolor painting techniques shows the balancing act that resulted from the mash of cultural ideals following WWII. Yoshida’s works are traditional in their minimalism, but also very impactful in that the cultural transition is gently introduced to the viewer. Most prints in the exhibit showed very traditional scenes, like Mount Fuji and shrines or fishermen on sailboats throughout the day, while others showed the shops at night seeming to suggest the beginning of using electric lights by the intensity of the shadows and the use of Western techniques.

Dr. Steen’s class was studying post WWII Japanese literature, coinciding with the time period of the Yoshida prints. His class used the exhibit as context for discussing the cultural transitions in Japan at that time and the effects on the country’s literature. “Art tells stories and I have my students write about those stories,” said Dr. Steen, who uses the themes of memory, cultural identity and travel to relate the texts back to differences in perspective. “There are many ways to make connections to the ideas that we talk about in class, even if they aren’t directly related.”

Elizabeth Peterson, the director of the OU Museum of Art, is thrilled that the classes were able to use the exhibit to compliment their classroom curriculum. “This is precisely why universities have museums—as more than a lovely place to visit—it’s an academic treasure trove for students.”

Dr. Herschler's Asian Politics Class with Dr. Terry Taylor.

Dr. Herschler’s Asian Politics class pictured with Dr. Terry Taylor, who loaned the Yoshida woodcuts to OUMA for the exhibition. Dr. Taylor gave a lecture to the class about the dedication required by Yoshida to create the woodcuts—all of which came from a selected single piece of wood.