Clark to host students from South Africa in Leadership for Change program

Clark University will host eight first-year university students, and one staff member, from the University of the Free Sate (UFS) in South Africa from Saturday, Sept. 21 to Friday, Oct. 3 as part of the UFS Leadership for Change Program. This diverse group of students (four black and four white) will provide an interesting opportunity — and a potential resource — for the Clark community and beyond. Please read more about the UFS program below; if you would like to get further involved, contact Dave Bell, director of the International Development, Community, and Environment Department.

The UFS Leadership for Change Program was established in 2009 in response to a racial incident that took place on the Bloemfontein campus of the University in 2008. Each year, UFS selects a diverse cohort of 150 first-year students and sends a group of eight students to each host institution. Upon their return to the UFS, these students — an emerging critical mass of student leaders for change — become part of a larger program that aims to work against racism and intolerance, and toward a socially just university campus and society, in South Africa.

This is the first time Clark has been involved, though UFS has partnered with a number of universities within the U.S. and internationally (Japan and Belgium), including the College of the Holy Cross, Mount Holyoke College and UMass Amherst.

The stated objectives of the program are:

  • to introduce UFS students to positive models of transformational leadership, racial integration and integrated residential life that demonstrates the possibilities for learning and living together;
  • to share and exchange ideas with students (on various campuses abroad) around issues of diversity, social justice and racial reconciliation, based on similar and /or shared histories; and
  • to build long-term opportunities for networking and collaboration among students and between academics, researchers and staff from host institutions, who are interested in the programmatic value and in scholarly work on themes of diversity, reconciliation and social justice.

UFS students will be hosted by Clark students and housed in Clark residences for the two weeks that they are here. The accompanying staff member/mentor of the group from the UFS’s Unit for Students with Disabilities will be housed in graduate student housing.

A team comprising IDCE Director Dave Bell, Intercultural Affairs Director Amy Daly Gardner, Director of Student Leadership and Programming Mike McKenna, Associate Director of Intercutural Affairs Patty Doherty, and Residential Life and Housing Director Kevin Forti will be responsible for developing the programming for the two weeks and will reach out to faculty, various Clark programs and student groups/associations to assist in this venture. The primary goal is to expose this small cohort of student leaders to Clark’s many and varied programs and opportunities for student leadership. The program does not have an explicit “academic” component (i.e., students are not required to attend classes) – however, visits to classes are encouraged.

Please get in touch with Dave Bell with ideas and suggestions, or questions.