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Volume 10, Edition 3 November 2010

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South African students visit UNCG from the University of the Free State

On Tuesday, October 5, the International Programs Center welcomed ten students from the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa who are part of a leadership program aimed at helping to promote diversity on their university campus. These students were hosted by Appalachian State University for 10 days before coming to UNCG:

The South African students meet the diversity panel

Kamogelo Dithebe
Portia Lehasa
Pashy Matlala
Phumudzo Rammbwa
Elne Rix
Geoff Seale
Zine Steenkamp
Sibussio Tshabalala
Meye van Wyk
Reon Visser

Led by Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, Associate Vice Chancellor of International Education and Development at Appalachian State, the group began their day at UNCG by attending an African Art History class, taught by Dr. Elizabeth Perrill, Assistant Professor of Art History. In the class, our guests discussed various issues with the art students, such as the meanings, connotations, and some of the heated debates in Africa of words like “tribe” and “native.” They were very engaged with the class and had a lot of valuable and interesting information to share with the UNCG students. Everyone seemed to appreciate their participation in the discussion.

Students in Dr. Elizabeth Perrill's African art class

The group then went on to meet with a panel of students and staff who are involved with various support services and student groups on campus. The discussion was led by Denise Bellamy, Director of Study Abroad and Exchanges, and centered on student groups and organizations, how to create and operate these groups, reach out to students, and foster inclusiveness in the university community. The representatives on the panel were Michael Elliott, Director of International Student and Scholar Services; Dr. Mark Villacorta, Assistant Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs; Dr. Tara Green, Director of African American Studies; Harri Huusko, an international exchange student from Finland; Nicole Griffin, President of Youth Taking Charge; and Rahul Reddy Maram, President of the Indian Student Association.

With the South African students, the panel discussed the importance of student organizations on campus because they allow students to connect with people who share their experiences, provide them a safe space to be validated, and give them a place in the greater community. The students were particularly interested in how to recognize students’ unique identities within a group or organization without excluding others in the community.

Denise Bellamy walks with the students to lunch

The students then had lunch at UNCG’s Spartan Restaurant with the panel members and some students from Dr. Perrill’s class before making their way to downtown Greensboro to visit the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, where they were given a guided tour. The Museum certainly had an impact on them and they shared their responses during a meeting with Mr. Bamidele Demerson, Executive Director of the museum. As a group, the students decided on one word for the museum exhibits: awesome. It certainly gave them a new perspective on the role Greensboro played in the Civil Rights movement. They were especially interested to learn that the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission is based on similar efforts in South Africa.

Overall, the day was a great success as the ten students from South Africa learned a lot about diversity and inclusiveness, and how to bring about change at their home university. They are an enthusiastic and energetic group, with many great ideas. The International Programs Center wishes them the best of luck and hopes their leadership and the knowledge they learned in the U.S. will bring about positive change for their future.  

Previous editions:

Volume 10, Edition 2, October 2010

Volume 10, Edition 1, September 2010

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