Five La Salle University students and a recent graduate spent two weeks in France attending the first-ever Lasallian Summer Seminar on Global Leadership. The La Salle contingent worked with students from Lasallian universities in Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, Mexico City, Manila and the host university, La Salle Beauvais, Institute Polytechnique from July 16 to July 28.
“The first Lasallian Summer Global Leadership Program in Beauvais, France, exceeded expectations. Spending two weeks with students and faculty from six Lasallian universities from around the world was an exhilarating experience,” said Dr. Robert Vogel, a professor of Education at La Salle and co-founder of the University’s program in Leadership and Global Understanding (LGU). “The leadership workshops presented by international faculty were engaging, informative, and provided the students opportunities to work together and solve authentic problems. Students worked in both national and international groups and were responsible for designing programs that could be implemented in their home schools. The six international projects will be synthesized to represent the ideas and thinking of all the participants.” Vogel along with his students will prepare an executive summary for Presidents and Provosts of all participating schools.
“The strength, energy and collaboration of the participants cannot be overstated. Working, living, eating, and playing together for two weeks helped form new and lasting friendships,” said Vogel. “While working side by side on challenging projects, traveling to Paris and the Champagne regions of France, bicycling to Beauvais from campus, playing soccer, wiffle ball, and other sports, cooking together and participating in each other’s cultural nights provided the environment to develop many special bonds, one that might last a lifetime.”
“The goal of this program was to bring Lasallian students together from the around the globe to build a Lasallian community or network of student leaders,” said Vogel. “Through collaboration and the celebration of each other’s strengths and skill sets, these future leaders learned to appreciate the value of understanding different cultures. I was extremely impressed with the passion and leadership qualities of these students, and I feel they will lead us to new frontiers of service to the poor and the further examination of issues related to social justice in the Lasallian spirit.”
“We are planning to hold the second Summer Global Leadership Program in Philadelphia in 2013,” said Vogel.
The La Salle students were juniors Kerrin Garropoli, Nichole Isola, Kristin MacKenzie, seniors Kaitlin Tomkewicz and Jessica Orapallo, and Thomas Wingert, who graduated from La Salle in May. This is the first visit to France for most of the students. All students were selected by faculty for the trip.
Wingert said he wanted to participate “because I’ve been a teaching assistant for Professor Vogel’s travel study programs over the past few years, which bring Lasallian schools from different countries together to explore and experience new places together–viewing a country through multiple lenses, so to speak.” Wingert, who will begin graduate school in public policy at the University of Michigan in the fall, added, “I truly believe that these experiences broaden students’ horizons as not only tremendous intellectual experiences but also opportunities to expand global networks of future leaders who have all come out of the Lasallian tradition.”
Tomkewicz, a communication major with a minor in LGU, said, “After traveling to Turkey with Dr. Vogel in the spring, I realized how important traveling is to a liberal arts education. Going to another country and being engaged in its culture allowed me to learn so much more beyond the classroom. I am looking forward to meeting students from Lasallian universities from all over the world and to strengthen the Lasallian community.”
Isola, a junior majoring in Elementary/Special Education and American Studies, said, “I wanted to participate in this program because I think it will be interesting to learn about how other students who go to a similar school are taught, and to see how their education system is similar and different to ours.”
MacKenzie, also a junior majoring in Elementary/Special Education and American Studies, said after learning about the program, she realized it was “an opportunity I didn’t want to miss out on.”
“As a future teacher, I believe the global awareness and involvement is a necessity,” she said. “Such an experience would benefit me later in life when applying for jobs because this is an experience that most other people will not have. I believe it will help me be more understanding of cultures other than my own and it will help me strengthen my leadership abilities, as I am being given the opportunity to represent my university in such an unprecedented program.”