International undergrads present ideas on societal dilemmas

July 15, 2019 - 2:56pm

After a two-week immersion on campus, international undergraduate leaders presented ideas for addressing issues within the local community, using international perspectives to develop solutions to global issues.

The students were a part of the 2019 Association of Pacific Rim Universities Undergraduate Leadership Program. They were challenged with untangling the Gordian knots of social inequality, environmental degradation and public health as they relate to three local nonprofits: Bring Recycling, HIV Alliance and Lane Education Service District.

Students were divided into 12 groups, four dedicated to each of the topics. The groups had 10 minutes to pitch their proposed solutions to the nonprofits, UO faculty members and other undergraduate leaders in the program. Finalists were selected for each issue in addition to student-selected awards for creativity, feasibility, inspiration and storytelling.

“The students did an excellent job getting to know Eugene, Springfield, Lane County and Oregon,” said Dennis Galvan, dean and vice provost for the Division of Global Engagement. “They put into their plans a good sense of the reality of this place in the world. I hope the community organizations harvested some real outside-the-box thinking and totally new approaches.”

Group photo

Within their presentations, many of the proposed solutions shared common themes of technology, community engagement and education.

Darian Westbrook, a fourth-year student at the UO who worked as a resource student, assisted the visiting students in researching and developing their solution.

“I am proud of my groups ideas and the overall leadership of the group, it was really exciting to see how much they care about these issues,” she said.

The program concluded with a farewell dinner and ceremony. The undergraduate leaders were recognized with certificates of participation for completing the program.

“This was a unique opportunity for young people from many different cultures to connect, collaborate and form relationships” said Grace Honeywell, interim innovative programs coordinator for the program. “I hope students leave here and this experience with a more inclusive and curious approach to the world and compassion for the many different types of people who live in it.”

–By Alyssa Hinojosa, University Communications