Hundreds of University of Oregon students will serve as cultural envoys to international athletes attending the World Athletic Championships Oregon22 at the UO in 2022, and the Division of Global Engagement is seeking one faculty member to lead them.
The world championships have never been held on a college campus or in the United States, let alone in a community the size of Eugene. The Division of Global Engagement, in partnership with the Office of the President, created the student envoy program to welcome more than 2,000 athletes from almost every country in the world.
“In hosting this event at the University of Oregon, it’s really important to us that we provide educational opportunities for the athletes and fans who are coming here, and we know that a university can enhance an event,” said Carlyn Schreck, assistant vice president for presidential initiatives. “Additionally, we see this as a massive opportunity to provide experiential learning for university students.”
Envoys, who may also include community members and UO staff, will offer hospitality and cultural interpretation through strategic pairings that play to individual envoys’ specific expertise with language, countries and cultures.
“For the visiting federations, it's not just the convenience of having somebody to call,” Schreck said. “An envoy is also a learning window for them to be able to speak with somebody in their native language who can help them better learn English, or to navigate what it's like to be in the United States.”
Schreck pointed to similar UO programs for the World Junior Championships in 2014 and presidential meetings held on campus that paired students with international guests. She said the experience and value goes both ways.
“This is a rare and wonderful opportunity to showcase the global excellence of the University of Oregon,” said Dennis Galvan, dean of the Division of Global Engagement. “With thousands of visitors and 800 million viewers a night tuning in to the World Athletic Championships at Hayward Field, the envoy program lets us showcase what we are most proud of in UO global engagement: our students’ multiligualism, global experience, cross-cultural savvy and intense desire to know and welcome the world..
By aligning an Academic Residential Community with the envoy program, opportunities to are accessible to first-year students in a new way, said Grace Honeywell, a program coordinator for the Division of Global Engagement.
The faculty lead will direct the residential program for first-year students under the division’s umbrella, beginning in fall 2021.
“To create a strong, successful team of dynamic student envoys, we need the program itself to be incusive, diverse and engaging,” Honeywell said. “The energy that the student envoys will bring to the World Athletic Championships Oregon22 starts with the training course, so we are designing a totally unique academic experience. By including the Global Engagement ARC, we’re cultivating community across not simply different years in school, but across different stories, experiences, interests and abilites.”
The training course will be overseen by a faculty leader with support from coordinators in the Division of Global Engagement, who will also assist with curriculum design, Honeywell said.
“The faculty leader will function like the coach of the team, inspiring, directing, motivating, facilitating and guiding the student envoys through the three-course curriculum to prepare them for the envoy role.”
Course objectives include competency in cross-cultural communication, which requires curiosity, background knowledge and story-telling ability; tourism and hospitality, which draws on local historical awareness as well as customer service skills; and sports engagement expertise, which includes exercise science, product knowledge and awareness of the development of sports in society with regard to inclusion.
Faculty are expected to rely on guest speakers and experts in many of the specialized fields but should have good background knowledge in these and other related topics.
The fall term course will be only for first years, but in winter term 2022 more-advanced students will be allowed to register. Compensation for the faculty lead is $5,000 per term. Faculty members who wish to apply should fill out the interest form.
“So many UO students, and faculty, have travelled the world and experienced the wonders of a new culture, the joy of making a connection across language and national boundaries, and the rich hospitality of diverse hosts,” Galvan said. “This is our chance to return the favor, to welcome the world to Eugene, empowering our students to share our UO and Oregon values of hospitality, globalism, and cross-cultural curiosity and inclusion.”
Students should stay tuned for announcements about applying for the program in late summer 2021.
—By Anna Glavash Miller, University Communications