Conference for Leadership, Innovation, and Social Change

Yesterday’s Conference for Leadership, Innovation, and Social Change was sponsored by the McGovern Center, Kelley Center, and the Stark Lectureship.  We listened to several different speakers– including some of our very own DWU students during the InnovaTalks!  (Our own version of TedTalks.)

The purpose of the conference is to encourage discussion and inspiration around leadership, innovative ideas, and social change.  Check out some of our photos in the slideshow below:

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Presidents’ Day- Trivia Contest

Yesterday was Presidents’ Day!  Dakota Wesleyan didn’t have the day off like some of the local grade schools, but the McGovern Center gave Presidents’ Day a little shout-out with a Presidential Trivia Contest.

Congratulations to DWU student Matt Bader, who answered EVERY question correctly!

Just a few of the questions:
Who was the first president to fly overseas?
Who was the first president to complete a marathon?
Which president had the most children?
Who did George McGovern run against for president?

Do you think YOU have some presidential fun fact knowledge?

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Third Freedom- Singing Valentines

Last week, our chapter of Universities Fighting World Hunger student group, Third Freedom, hosted their “Singing Valentines” Valentine’s Day Fundraiser.  Some of the Third Freedom students went around to area businesses and sang their hearts out to the staff, shop owners, and anyone they met– collecting donations of support (or perhaps payment to put a stop to the “joyful noise”).  Businesses could then send the singing group on to other area businesses and friends!  The group had a fun and busy day!  All donations help to support the events and programs of the UFWH group.

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Stories of Refugees event

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Last night, the McGovern Center, along with DWU Campus Ministries, hosted “Stories of Refugees”– an event that invited our community to share and listen to stories of refugees in our area.  Our hope was that last night helped to continue a conversation and to put a human face onto an issue that all too often becomes limited to a political or social media debate.

We had a full house for the event and are so thankful to all those who were willing to share a piece of their story!  Check us out on Keloland and the Daily Republic:

http://www.keloland.com/news/article/news/putting-a-face-to-a-national-debate

http://www.mitchellrepublic.com/news/local/4214944-dakota-wesleyan-puts-human-face-refugee-discussion

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Ralph Helmuth shares his experience working with refugees in Greece.

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“What is your understanding of what it means to be a refugee?”

 

To be civically engaged

Like many of you, I’ve (Alisha) remained social-media-silent on all-things-political for the last several weeks. I’ve been a bit paralyzed by thoughts, not knowing what to say or how to say it. I’m sure many have wondered what I’m thinking, especially given my job as the director of a program that endorses civic engagement, a professor who teaches leadership, and a person who says she loves Jesus.

To be certain, I have a lot of thoughts on what’s been unfolding the last several weeks and, although these sentiments have not found their way to a public platform, they’ve been there in my home, in my workplace, and in my classroom. In case you’re wondering, I DO work REALLY hard to present both sides of the issues in fairness and always encourage people to see the pros and cons of every situation. I’m confident that students would tell you that I’ve remained pretty balanced and focused on helping them be independent thinkers, too.

Here are some sentiments I’ve been glad to share in person and now here, publicly, as well:
I believe in the value of our representative democracy, one in which we elect leaders to represent us and one in which we have the opportunity and constitutional right to stand up, speak out in public and march in opposition when they don’t. I’ve been in places where people do not have this right. I’ve watched what it looks like when a government shuts down social media to deter organized action, suppress voter information and more. It’s not the kind of government I want to live with and I hope you don’t either.

I’ve strongly encouraged my students to be cautious of their news feeds on their social media apps. We need be aware that if we gravitate toward “likes” for the same types of news, information, and posts over and over again then our news feeds will become biased (the systems are designed to give us “what we want to see”). This will set us up for being less objective, less informed, and less likely to be the free thinkers we really think we want to be. We should be noting that Fox News tends to report information one way and CNN another but we should read both (and a lot of other factual news as well). Being informed from multiple perspectives allows us to try to understand the “other” and we will not be able to make good decisions unless we are thinking about something from all sides of the issue. I hope we are encouraging our politicians and our president to do the same.

I’ve worked hard to challenge my students to be engaged and be courageous. Speak up when your friends say something you disagree with. Email your representative when you disagree with them AND when you agree. Pretending that what’s happening in Washington, or in our state legislatures, or in our local governments is not our problem… and when we don’t know how to respond so we don’t… is not the answer. People who crave power often hope that those they are in authority over disengage. It makes their job a lot easier when they can do “whatever they want” without having to be held accountable. So, even if you lack confidence and your words aren’t perfect, there is room for your voice to be heard. Send a two-sentence email. Leave a voicemail. Write a letter. Sign a petition. Tell a representative “thank you” for doing something you agree with. Don’t be intimidated. You have a lot more power than you think you do.

Other words I’ve left behind these weeks are to be kind. Persons whose leadership legacy is the most tarnished are typically those who are/were mean.

And, perhaps the most important sentiment shared in recent weeks and months is to actively listen and speak the truth. Respect diversities of opinions and ideas. Talk about differences and ask a lot of questions. Critically examine opinions and proclamations. Challenge yourself to verify that information is true and know that real facts are not relative. When we stop listening and don’t take the time to reflect on ideas we put ourselves at risk for being easily manipulated.

I have lots of opinions about what’s going on in our state and in our nation today. I’m emailing, calling, attending open forums, and talking to those in my circles about those things I really care about. I’m giving funds to support legal action against things I believe are injustices to my fellow Americans. I’m celebrating that people marched for women and people marched for life and that we can do these things in our democracy.

My parting words for today are these: Listen. Have courage. Be informed. Engage.

Martin Luther King Day

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day last Monday, McGovern Center director, Alisha Vincent, and Program Coordinator, Carly Hubers, visited around campus to both students and staff to share some encouragement in honor of the important day.

We are thankful for the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his continued voice in the work of so many around the world.  May we continue to be humbled and challenged by a message of justice.

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Uganda Team Update

The team has wrapped up their trip and are headed back to South Dakota!

In the last few days, the team has visited the farmer field schools (as mentioned in the previous post), helped with some of the pigs that had been donated through our Livestock for Life program, and even visited Queen Elizabeth National Park.  Check out some of the photos in this slideshow below:

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The Uganda Team also had an opportunity to raise funds to help sponsor a local student for the remainder of their primary school years.  The team is thrilled about helping Alex!  Alisha posted more on the Facebook page:

“For the last couple of years, students who travel to Uganda and visit Bright Light Education Center raise enough funds to sponsor a student for the remainder of their primary school years. This year they decided Alex was it! He is a bright student who performs at the top of his class and also served as a little host and even occasional translator for the group!”

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Alex and the DWU Team

The team will be travelling back to campus tonight– praying for a safe and restful return for all of them!  Thank you for your continued support and watch for student stories right here once they return!