Empowering Learners: Challenging the Present for a Better Future

by Brandon Zhou, Dartmouth College

Attending this year’s Matariki Global Citizenship Forum, I was not sure what to expect. While I knew there would be productive discussion, I never expected to have the opportunity to engage and work with such amazing people from institutions all around the world. This year’s conference allowed me to learn so much about the cultures of other universities and the various ways they integrate learning in the classroom. It was fascinating to hear about their successes whether it be in the classroom with Queen’s University (BISC) and their experiential learning opportunities or the University of Otago’s Silverline initiative to addressing mental health issues on campus. I look forward to bringing these stories and projects back to the Dartmouth community and finding ways to challenge the present and tackle issues on our own campus. Another part of the conference that was important to me was our reflection time and recognizing the privileges we enjoy as well-endowed and resourced institutions. As a group, we looked at finding ways to further our interactions and relationships with our local communities. 

While this conference was attended by faculty, staff, and both undergraduate and post-graduate students, I especially enjoyed the collaboration that took place between participants regardless of their position or role. It was not uncommon to see professors speaking to first-year undergraduate students on ways to encourage student leadership in the classroom or working on revising a workshop to present to the public. 

However, beyond the serious, the Forum was a valuable bonding experience for delegates. We had the chance to share traditions to the rest of the group from Dartmouth College’s Homecoming Bonfire to Uppsala University’s Flogsta Scream tradition. Perhaps my favourite part of this experience was experiencing Durham and seeing the Durham Castle and Cathedral.

As a whole, we represented very different parts of the world and even within individual institutions, very different countries and backgrounds. Upon leaving this conference, I have discovered that the concept of global citizenship cannot be easily defined, if at all. For me, it is simply an all-encompassing term for the work that we do as leaders and people, both in our daily interactions and long-term projects. It was amazing for all of us to come together and discuss our goals and insights on the future of education as empowered and eager learners and facilitators. This year was a great starting point for many projects and presentations and I cannot wait to see what is in store for next year’s Forum at the University of Western Australia!

Upon leaving this conference, I have discovered that the concept of global citizenship cannot be easily defined, if at all. For me, it is simply an all-encompassing term for the work that we do as leaders and people, both in our daily interactions and long-term projects.